Effect of Phenological Stages on Plant Dry Matter Partitioning and Seed Production in Berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum L.)
ABSTRACT Berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum L.) is an annual forage crop widely grown in Mediterranean environments. Dry matter partitioning in the leaf, stem and root and seed production of three populations of Egyptian as well as Italian origin were evaluated under four cutting regimes. The cutting treatments were applied to the plants at different stages of plant development: at the fourth (A) and eighth nodes elongation (B), at early flowering (C) and physiological maturity of seeds (D), After herbage, harvest plants were utilized for seed yield and evaluation of its seed yield components. Higher dry matter and seed yield was obtained in treatments D and B, respectively. In the other treatments, dry matter content was lower than in treatment D and related to the phenological development of the plant. Dry matter content in the root was higher when the cut was applied at early flowering. Cutting regimes influenced plant mortality, with the number of dead plants increasing from the cut applied in early (A) to that in the final treatment (D). Cuts applied at early stage of development depleted root reserves causing plant death. This peculiarity could be a tool for selecting populations with higher persistence and with a more tolerant physiological response to stress imposed by cuts. The populations of Egyptian origin, in comparison with the Italian ones, were more productive in dry matter in the early stage of growth and in all treatments were higher in seed weight.