Clones of superior pollen- and seed-producing plants of 4 fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens [Pursh] Nutt.) ecotypes were planted in a seed orchard in west-central Texas to determine if seed production and quality could be enhanced by irrigation and fertilization. Subplots of nitrogen (N) at 112 kg·ha−1, phosphorous (P) at 112 kg·ha−1, N P at 112 112 kg·ha−1, or no fertilizer were superimposed on irrigated or dryland main-plots. Neither irrigation nor fertilization affected estimated seed yields or utricle fill during the third growing season after planting. Fertilization did not affect seed germination of any of the saltbush ecotypes on irrigated plots or that of the 2 more xeric ecotypes (Grandfalls and Valentine) on dryland plots. Fertilizer N on dryland plots increased germination of the San Angelo ecotype, and N P increased germination of the Texon ecotype. Estimated gross value of the first seed crop was about $4 648·ha−1 even though the superior reproductive traits of parental pistillate plants were poorly expressed by the clones. Fertilization did not affect estimated seed yields in irrigated plots, but N and N P increased seed yields in dryland plots in the fourth growing season. Fertilization effects on seed weights varied among irrigated and dryland plots and among saltbush ecotypes. Mortality of the shrubs during the period extending from 1988 to 1990 was not affected by irrigation or fertilization but increased among ecotypes as the xeric nature of their sites of origin increased and as the distance of their sites of origin from the seed orchard increased. Evidence from this study did not strongly support cloning, irrigation, or fertilization for improving seed harvests of fourwing saltbush in west-central Texas.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3