Drought-tolerant barley: I. Field observations of growth and development

Andrea Y. Carter, Martha C. Hawes, Michael J. Ottman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


An ever-growing challenge to agricultural production worldwide is the reduced availability of water and increased incidence of drought. The development of low-irrigation barley cultivars marks a significant achievement in breeding efforts for drought tolerance, but specific traits conferring adaptation to water stress remain unclear. Here, we report results from two years of replicated field trials comparing yield, phenology, water usage, and rooting characteristics of low-irrigation varieties “Solar” and “Solum” to high-input, semi-dwarf varieties “Kopious” and “Cochise”. The objective was to identify differential performance of varieties under high- and low-water conditions through comparison of growth and developmental traits. Rooting characteristics were analyzed by digging in-field root profile walls to a depth of 1.8 m. Varieties were compared under high (877 mm) and low (223 mm) water regimes including irrigation and precipitation. Observed traits associated with improved performance of the low-irrigation varieties under drought conditions included early vigor, early flowering, greater root growth at 40–80 cm depth, and more effective water use exhibited by greater water extraction post-anthesis. The deeper rooting pattern of the low-irrigation varieties may be related to their ability to use more water post-anthesis under water stress, and thus, to fill grain, compared to high input varieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number221
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 30 2019


  • Barley
  • Drought tolerance
  • Field trial
  • Low irrigation
  • Root profile
  • Root traits
  • Water use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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