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In the present study, a two-year field trial was carried out with the aim to evaluate daylength and air temperature effects on leaf appearance and related rates in two durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.), two bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and two barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) cultivars, using six different sowing dates (SD). Significant effects of SD on final main stem leaf number (FLN), thermal leaf appearance rate (TLAR), daily leaf appearance rate (DLAR) and phyllochron (PhL) were found. Cultivars resulted inversely correlated to mean air temperature in the interval emergence - fifth leaf full expansion (E-V). Linear response of leaf number over days after sowing was shown for all SD and cultivars, with R2 higher than 0.95. FLN linearly decreased from the first to the last SD for durum wheat, while more variable behaviour was observed in bread wheat. TLAR and DLAR showed a linear increment of the rate from the first to the last SD in durum wheat, while did not for bread wheat and barley. PhL in durum wheat decreased from the first to the last SD. Barley and bread wheat showed the highest values on those SDs which did not reach flowering. The increase of TLAR was affected by photoperiod and photothermal units in durum wheat, while by temperatures only in barley and bread wheat. Present results might find practical application in the improvement of phenology simulation models for durum wheat, bread wheat and barley grown in Mediterranean area in absence of water and nutrient stress.
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