Toward development of peanut varieties with drought and heat tolerance
Wallace, Jennifer Rae
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Depletion of groundwater requires greater efficiency in future water use for all crops. Efforts are currently being made in peanut productions to develop peanut cultivars that are drought and heat tolerant. The dry climate in west Texas creates the need for irrigation of crops due to the low annual rainfall (less than 18 inches). Peanuts cannot be grown under dryland conditions, but creating a variety that can be grown under reduced irrigation (drought conditions), withstand the heat, and still provide an adequate yield will help in using water efficiently. Improved resistance to abiotic and biotic stress is crucial for the long-term viability of peanut production and is necessary for efficient use of water. To determine components of tolerance to abiotic stress, twenty runner and four Spanish/Valencia accessions were planted in a replicated experiment in 2002 and increased to twenty-four runners and twelve Spanish accessions in 2003. Accessions were evaluated under drought (50% ET replacement) and irrigation (75% ET replacement). Significant differences were seen in flowering, harvest index, paraheliotropism, chlorophyll content, and root mass among genotypes. Heat stress was studied alongside drought, because they are closely related. Greenhouses were used to create high temperature stress to be tested for fluorescence determination for heat tolerance or susceptibility. A long-term program has been initiated to integrate modern physiological and molecular methods with plant breeding, to develop peanut varieties that can efficiently be grown under reduced water inputs and high heat stress. Suitable parents have been selected for and crosses are underway to develop F2 seeds that can be tested for drought and heat tolerance.