, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 191-199

Performance of durum wheat landraces in a Mediterranean environment (eastern Sicily)

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Summary

The evaluation aimed at identifying landrace genotypes adapted to the rather unfavourable growing conditions of durum wheat in Sicily, to be used as parental material in a breeding programme. The trial was carried out in three seasons experiencing varying climatic conditions, and included 75 landraces, 25 of which were selected under severe drought in Syria. Wide differences were observed for most traits among genotypes and seasons of evaluation. Yields of the best performing entries identified in each season never significantly differed from that of the best check variety. The top-yielding landraces were consistently better than the remaining entries for the three yield components, viz. number of spikes per plant, number of kernels per spike and mean kernel weight. In the driest season they were also significantly earlier in heading, confirming the importance of earliness under drought. An analytical breeding approach relying on an array of morpho-physiological traits as selection criteria did not seem appropriate for the given environment, as the variable stress level enhanced the importance of specific traits under specific situations. The genotypic response was largely season-specific. Nonetheless, five landraces were in the best group in all seasons. The selection made in Syria also appeared somewhat effective in Sicily, particularly in the less favourable seasons.