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Insights into Temperature and Soil Moisture-Induced Alterations in Safflower Physiological, Seed Filling, Quality, and Yield Attributes


Despite being native to semi-arid environments, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) growth, seed yield, and physiological responses under contrasting temperature and moisture conditions typically occurring in semi-arid regions are not fully understood. Thus, three field experiments and a greenhouse study were conducted to study the growth, yield, and physiological attributes of six safflower genotypes under different environmental conditions. Spring-sown and summer-sown plants were subjected to contrasting environmental conditions in two 4-replicate randomized complete block design (RCBD) field experiments. In the third field experiment (a 3-replicate split plot RCBD) and the greenhouse study (a 3-replicate RCBD), the safflower genotypes were subjected to different irrigation regimes of no stress to severe drought. Spring-sown safflower outperformed the summer-sown crop in terms of seed filling rate (SFR) by 93%, seeds head−1 by 62%, 1000-seeds weight by 30%, seed yield by 53%, oil concentration by 16% and protein concentrations by 22%. Plant dry mass (PDM) for the summer-sown safflower was 25% greater than the spring-sown one. In contrast to a 21% increase in seed protein concentration, severe drought led to notable decreases in leaf chlorophyll a (chl-a), chl-b and total chlorophyll (chl-tot) concentrations, leaf area, relative water content (RWC), catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities, membrane stability index (MSI), oil concentration, yield components and consequently seed yield (36%) and PDM (34%). Genotype Kouseh tended to maintain its seed yield and quality across the environmental conditions, potentiating this under-utilized crop as an alternative to be endorsed in crop rotations of semi-arid climates.

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Seed filling rate


Leaf area index


Plant dry mass

chl-a :

Chlorophyll a

chl-b :

Chlorophyll b


Total chlorophyll


Relative water content




Ascorbate peroxidase


Membrane stability index


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase


Growing degree days


Least significant difference


Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid


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Financial aid provided by the Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran and critical reading and English language editing of manuscript by Dr Morteza Zahedi are appreciated.

Author information




PE designed the experiments, supervised the research work, and prepared the manuscript. PH conducted the Sowing Season Field Experiments and Moisture Regime Greenhouse Experiment, collected and analyzed the data. MS conducted the Moisture Regime Field Experiment and collected and analyzed the data.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Parviz Ehsanzadeh.

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Houshmand, P., Shirani, M. & Ehsanzadeh, P. Insights into Temperature and Soil Moisture-Induced Alterations in Safflower Physiological, Seed Filling, Quality, and Yield Attributes. Int. J. Plant Prod. (2021).

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  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorophyll
  • Oilseed
  • Seed filling rate
  • Temperature
  • Water deficit