Wheat Production and Breeding in Israel from 1948 to 2002

https://doi.org/10.17221/3695-CJGPBCitation:Atsmon S.Y., Schwarzbach E. (2004): Wheat Production and Breeding in Israel from 1948 to 2002. Czech J. Genet. Plant Breed., 40: 17-24.
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The sown wheat acreage in Israel increased from less than 40 000 ha in 1948 to more than 100 000 ha in the seventies and has declined slightly since that time. About 3/4 of the crop are grown in the central part of the country, mostly rain fed, with precipitation of 250–500 mm. The cultivation of durum wheat, originally dominant, has declined since the sixties to a small percentage of the wheat acreage and durum wheat breeding is thus negligible. Local bread wheat breeding started around 1960 independently at three breeding organisations, one of which extensively used genetic material from international breeding programs in Mexico. Since the fifties about 25 cultivars have been released, but only a few are of economic importance now. Breeding considerably increased the yielding potential of cultivars. The recent top cultivar Galil yields about twice as much as cv. Florence Aurore, the leading cultivar in 1970. The national average grain yield rose from 900 kg/ha in 1948 to recently 2.3 t/ha. The highest on-farm yields under favourable conditions are about 9 t/ha. An increasing proportion of the wheat acreage is used for silage, reaching now more than 25%. Yearly fluctuations of yield are considerable and are closely related to rainfall. Data also show an improvement in water utilisation by the crop during the analysed period. The domestic production covered originally only about 12% of the consumption, reaching 47% in the decade 1970–1979, but declined again due to the population growth from 1.2 to 6.5 millions.  

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