Sukhbir Singh1, Sultan Begna2, Kulbhushan K. Grover3, Sangamesh Angadi2 and Dick L. Auld4, (1)Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Clovis, NM (2)NMSU, Clovis, NM (3)P.O. BOX 30003, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM (4)Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Water stress is the most important environmental stress limiting crop yield and quality in the arid and semi-arid regions of New Mexico (NM). Identifying crops that can grow well with limited water will help sustaining agriculture in the region. Safflower is a deep rooted, stress tolerant crop that originated in desert environment and could be well adapted to the region. Anecdotally, wet conditions after flowering are not expected to help yield formation in safflower. A field experiment was conducted at Clovis, NM during 2013 and 2014 seasons. The objective of the study was to assess drought physiology and yield formation of three spring safflower cultivars under growth stage based irrigation management. Four irrigation treatments, namely stress at vegetative stage, stress at reproductive stage, rainfed and irrigated were randomized into a split plot design with four replications. First year results showed reduction in water potential and relative water content under water stress conditions. Low photosynthesis was the reason of biomass drop in stressed treatments. Cutting irrigation after flowering was least detrimental to safflower yield formation. However, the highest yields were observed in fully irrigated treatment. Pooled analysis of two years will provide a water management strategy for successful production of safflower with less water.