Canola yield formation under different population and water use levels
Optimum population is the foundation for high yields under rain-fed agriculture and the optimum population depends on the water availability. However, establishing a good canola stand in the Canadian semiarid Prairie, where low temperature, water stress and soil crusting result in poor seed bed conditions, is difficult. A field study was conducted during 2000, a year with moderate soil moisture and good canola growing conditions, and 2001, a year with severe water and heat stress, to understand the plasticity of canola yield parameters at different (80 to 5 plants per square meter) plant populations. The primary response of canola to lower plant population was increased branching, although it did not compensate completely for the decreasing population. Increased branching was accompanied by increased production and increased distribution of pods on the primary and secondary branches. Canola exhibited plasticity in yield adjustment over a wide range of plant populations. Environmental conditions played a significant role in expressing canola plasticity. For example, in a normal year like 2000 canola maintained similar yield levels over a wider range of populations (80 to 20 pl m-2), while in a dry year like 2001 seed yield started declining with populations below 40 pl m-2. Ability to produce more pods, especially at lower population densities, was responsible for the environmental influence on yield formation.
primary and secondary branch
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