In most southern provinces of Iran, salinity is a growing problem particularly in irrigated agricultural areas with rising water tables, poor water quality and/or deficient soil drainage. To investigate the effects of sodium chloride on two barley cultivars, four levels of salinity: 0, 4, 8 and 12 dS/m, were employed as a factorial experiment arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications in a controlled environment of the greenhouse during 2008 to 2009. The results indicated that increasing salinity from 0 to 12 dS/m, decreased the emergence percentage, significantly. The two cultivars (Fajr30 and Reyhan) responded differently to salinity, so that Fajr30 showed a significantly higher emergence rate. This cultivar (Fajr30) also had greater shoot potassium content. The number of tillers and leaves per plant and also the plant height were decreased upon increasing salinity level. The shoot sodium content was also increased by increasing the salinity level in both cultivars; however, the sodium content of Fajr30 cultivar, compared to Reyhan cultivar, was lower, probably due to Na+ exclusion mechanisms in this cultivar. The results also revealed that, the highest grain number and phytomass was obtained from Fajr30 cultivar at the lowest salinity level. Phytomass and grain yield were also decreased upon salinity, significantly. Overall, it appeared that less adverse effect of salinity on Fajr30 cultivar, may indicate that this cultivar might be suitable for saline soils, an object which is worth more investigations.
Key words: Salinity, yield components, barley, sodium, potassium.
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