, Volume 71, Issue 1–2, pp 35–48 | Cite as

Genetic improvement of spring barley cultivars grown in eastern Canada from 1910 to 1988

  • Patrick Bulman
  • Diane E. Mather
  • Donald L. Smith
Original Research Paper


Spring barley is an important feed crop in eastern Canada, and the development of high-yielding, high grain protein cultivars is desirable. This study was conducted to assess the impact of breeding on the yield and protein aspects of cultivar development, and to identify related changes in plant characteristics which may have been altered over time. A 3-year field experiment was conducted to evaluate twenty six-rowed spring barley genotypes representing the majority of cultivars developed from 1910 to 1988 for eastern Canada. The yields of barley cultivars released from 1935 to 1988 increased at a rate of about 0.03 t ha-1 yr-1, and showed no evidence of having reached a plateau. Increases in yield were associated with higher total dry matter production and harvest index, reduced plant height and increased lodging resistance. No consistent change in main stem or tiller yield components was observed. Grain protein concentration decreased progressively with time, especially with the newer cultivars. Reduction in grain protein concentration was not associated with lower protein content on a per grain basis, but rather with an increase in the amount of non-structural carbohydrate per grain. Total plant and grain N accumulation showed positive trends with time. No trends were observed for N harvest index, apparent post-heading N uptake, N retranslocation, and retranslocation efficiency. Thus, while the newer cultivars accumulated more total and grain N, proportional N partitioning to the grain was not altered.

Key words

Hordeum vulgare barley cultivar development yield grain protein N parameters eastern Canada 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Bulman
    • 1
  • Diane E. Mather
    • 1
  • Donald L. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant ScienceMcGill UniversitySte Anne de BellevueCanada

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