Process-based analysis of Thinopyrum intermedium phenological development highlights the importance of dual induction for reproductive growth and agronomic performance
Publication: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey) is being developed for use as a new perennial grain crop through breeding and agronomic research. However, progress has been hampered by lack of understanding of environmental requirements for flowering and grain production. Therefore, we developed a phenology model for IWG adapted from the STICS soil-crop model. The model was compliant with experimental results (relative root mean square error = 0.03). The optimal vernalizing temperature was between 4 and 5°C, optimal daylength between 13 and 14h, while daylength below 11h slowed reproductive development. Vernalization requirement was found to be a constraining inductive process. Including a photoperiod limitation to the model with temperature improved its ability to predict induction at various latitudes. Therefore, timing and duration of vegetative vs. reproductive growth may differ between environments and change reproductive tiller elongation earliness, weed competitiveness, management timing, and stress conditions during phases critical to grain yield. Accurate phenology models will enable optimal field management and inform future breeding strategies. However, plasticity may lead to divergent ideotypes under various agroecosystems.