Responses of early and late cultivars to moderate drought conditions: agronomic parameters and carbon isotope discrimination

P.M.K. Deblonde, A.J. Haverkort, J.F. Ledent

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    Our main objective was to test under moderate drought conditions the hypothesis that early cultivars behave better than late cultivars under conditions of drought occurring late in the season whereas late cultivars would be less susceptible to a drought occurring early in the season. Agronomic parameters [tuber dry weight, harvest index, dry matter content, tolerance to a decrease in water supply (TDWS) and carbon isotope discrimination (Δ)] were measured in six potato genotypes (Solanum tuberosum L.) subjected in two field trials ([995 and 1996) to three levels of water supply (treatments: 1, rainfall + irrigation; 2, rainfall only; 3, rainfall reduced to stemflow during early growth). In both years, treatment 3 (lower water supply) reduced significantly tuber dry yield and harvest index in comparison with treatment 1 (higher water supply). Tuber dry matter content was increased significantly only by treatment 3 in 1996. For these parameters cultivars did not differ in their response to the lower water regimes except in the case of tuber dry matter content during one year (1996). TDWS defined as tuber dry weight of treated plots relative to the tuber dry weight of treatment I allowed more discrimination among the behaviour of cultivars in case of moderate drought than yield and Δ. Our TDWS results confirm partly the hypothesis tested: in 1996, TDWS values of mid-late cultivars were higher than those of early cultivars in the case of early drought (treatment 3), indicating that later cultivars support better a drought stress in the early part of the season. Differences among cultivars in the responses of Δ to the different water regimes could not be shown, and there was no difference between the values of Δ observed for early and late-cultivars. In our moderate drought conditions an escape mechanism of earlier cultivars could not be confirmed through the consideration of the Δ values observed. The linear regression of Δ on TDWS gave a positive slope significantly different from-zero (n =24) but the R2 values were low (R2=0.41).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-105
    JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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