The semi-arid region of Tunisia is characterized by a low and erratic rainfall. This makes year-round maintenance of pasture and forage production under non-irrigated conditions both costly and difficult. In order to fill the winter feed gap in the livestock cycle; some cereals can be used as dual-purpose. This study aimed at evaluating agronomic performances and grain quality of two dual-purposes cereal crops, Barley and Triticale, cut at the pseudo stem erect stage (C30). The trial was conducted during 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons under a semi-arid environment. Yields did not significantly differ between years and although barley yielded more forage crop than triticale the yield was not significantly different. Crude protein in the plant was significantly higher in barley (18.2%) compared to triticale (17.4%). Defoliation has caused a significant grain yield reduction for both cereals and was about 22% for triticale and 28% for barley; grain yield after forage removal was statistically higher for triticale (3.47 T/ha) than barley (2.85 T/ha). As average for the two seasons of the trial, grain protein was significantly higher after clipping for barley (11.35% for dual purpose and 10.17% for grain production only) and was not affected for triticale (9.38% versus 9.55%). Under Tunisian semi-arid environment, triticale and barley have comparable yields with a small superiority for triticale in grain yield after forage use and higher plant and grain protein contents in barley.
Key words: Cereals defoliation, forage, protein, grain.
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