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Salinity on Survival and Early Development of Biofuel Feedstock Crops

Authors: Vincent M. Russo


Salinity level may affect early development of biofuel feedstock crops. The biofuel feedstock crops canola (Brassica napus L.), sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.); and the potential feedstock crop sweet corn (Zea mays L.) were planted in media in pots and treated with aqueous solutions of 0, 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 M NaCl once at: 1) planting; 2) 7-10 days after planting or 3) first true leaf expansion. An additional treatment (4) comprised of one-half strength of the 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0 M (concentrations 0.05, 0.25, 0.5 M at each application) was applied at first true leaf expansion and four days later. Survival of most crops decreased below 90% above 0.5 M; survival of canola decreased above 0.1 M. Application timing had little effect on crop survival. For canola root fresh and dry weights improved when application was at plant emergence; for sorghum top and root fresh weights improved when the split application was used. When application was at planting root dry weight was improved over most other applications. Sunflower top fresh weight was among the highest when saline solutions were split and top dry weight was among the highest when application was at plant emergence. Sweet corn root fresh weight was improved when the split application was used or application was at planting. Sweet corn root dry weight was highest when application was at planting or plant emergence. Even at high salinity rates survival rates greater than what might be expected occurred. Plants that survived appear to be able to adjust to saline during the early stages of development.

Keywords: Development, Sunflower, Survival, sorghum, Canola, Sweetcorn

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