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Determinants of oil concentration and seed yield in canola and Indian mustard in the lower rainfall areas of Western Australia

P. Si and G. H. Walton

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55(3) 367 - 377
Published: 26 March 2004


Oil concentration and seed yield of canola (Brassica napus) are usually low and variable when grown in the lower rainfall areas of Western Australia. This paper identifies determinants of oil concentration and seed yield in these areas. Through a series of cultivar × sowing date experiments at 5 lower rainfall locations and one high rainfall location as comparison, we evaluated the impact of sowing date, cultivar, and location on these 2 key agronomic traits. We also examined relationships between oil concentration, seed yield, and post-anthesis duration, post-anthesis temperature, and post-anthesis rainfall with a view to investigate the adaptive requirements of canola for the lower rainfall areas.

Cultivars differed in their capacities to produce oil and seed yield. The ranking of cultivars for oil concentration, and seed yield to a lesser extent, remained constant across sowing dates and locations. Both seed yield and oil concentration decreased with delayed sowing. On average, oil concentration was reduced by 1.1 percentage points and seed yield by 309 kg/ha for every 2 weeks delay in sowing. The magnitude of reduction in oil concentration from delayed sowing was far greater in a low rainfall site at Mullewa than in the high rainfall site at Mt Barker.

Later sowings shortened post-anthesis duration. With a given sowing date, early flowering cultivars resulted in longer post-anthesis duration. Oil concentration increased by 1.2 percentage points for a 10-day increase in post-anthesis duration. Both oil concentration and seed yield increased with higher post-anthesis rainfall and lower post-anthesis temperature. The rates of increase were 0.7 percentage points for oil and 116 kg/ha for seed yield for every 10-mm increase in post-anthesis rainfall. The rates of reduction were 0.68 percentage points for oil and 289 kg/ha for seed yield for every 1°C increase in post-anthesis temperature. These relationships suggest that a combination of an early date of sowing with an early flowering cultivar would be essential for the production of high yield and high oil canola in the lower rainfall areas. Indian mustard (B. juncea) showed tolerance to high temperature and water deficit, but the low yield potential makes it uneconomical with early sowing. Further improvement in seed yield could be dependent on increased tolerance of canola to high temperature and water deficit during seed growth and development.

Keywords: adaptation, flowering date, triazine tolerance (TT), variation.

© CSIRO 2004

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