Crop water use indicators to quantify the flexible phenology of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) in response to drought stress

Sam Geerts, Dirk Raes, Magali Garcia, Jorge Mendoza, Ruben Huanca

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32 Scopus citations


Models can play an important role in agricultural planning and management. Thermal time accumulation is a common way of describing phenological development in crop models, but the sensitivity of this concept to water stress is rarely quantified. The effect of pre-anthesis droughts on the timing of anthesis and physiological maturity was assessed for quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) var. 'Santa Maria', with the help of two field experiments (2005-2006 and 2006-2007) in the central Bolivian Altiplano. Various treatments with different sowing dates and irrigation applications were considered. To evaluate the effect of drought stress on crop development, drought stress during the first 60 days after sowing was assessed with three different stress indicators: the number of days that the soil water content of the root zone was above a threshold, the average relative transpiration, and the sum of daily actual transpiration, standardized for reference evapotranspiration (∑(Ta/ET0)). The best indicator to quantify the effect of pre-anthesis drought stress on phenological development was ∑(Ta/ET0) cumulated until 60 days after sowing. This indicator showed a significant logarithmic relation with the time to anthesis and time to physiological maturity. Correlations of the drought stress indicator with thermal time accumulation were better than with calendar time accumulation. Due to an effect of post-anthesis droughts, the correlations of the drought stress indicator with the time to anthesis were stronger than with the time to physiological maturity. It was also demonstrated that deficit irrigation can contribute to a better agricultural planning due to a better control of the phenological development of quinoa. The proposed relations can be used for modeling phenological development of quinoa in drought prone regions and for efficient deficit irrigation planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-156
Number of pages7
JournalField Crops Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 23 Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research funded by a Ph.D. grant of the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR). The research is carried out in Bolivia in the frame of the VLIR Own Initiative Project QuinAgua, scientific collaboration between K.U. Leuven and the Universidad Mayor de San Andres. Our debt of gratitude is extended to the people of the ex-IBTA (UMSA-station) in Patacamaya, Bolivia. We highly appreciate the valuable comments of the anonymous reviewers.


  • Anthesis
  • Deficit irrigation
  • Growing degree days
  • Modeling
  • Phenological development
  • Quinoa
  • Water stress


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