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Original Article

Effects of Phenological Stages on Yield and Quality Traits of Three Halophyte Plant Species as Forage Sources and Combating Desertification in Khuzestan Province, Iran



Halophytes have good potential for forage production and combating desertification in saline soils. The present research was aimed to investigate the effects of phenological stages (Vegetative, Flowering & Ripening) on the yield and quality of three halophytes, Atriplex leucoclada, Suaeda fruticosa, and Seidlitzia rosmarinus, in warm steppe rangelands, Khuzestan privince, Iran. Data were collected in 2015-2016 for Dry Matter (DM) yield. Quality traits included Crude Protein (CP), Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD), Water-Soluble Carbohydrates (WSC), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), Crude Fiber (CF), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), and total ash. Data were statistically analyzed using SAS9 software and means were compared using LSD 5% method. Results showed a significant difference between species, phenological stages, and their interaction for all the traits. S. fruticosa and A. leucoclada with average values of 14.45 and 12.88 t/ha had higher and lower production, respectively. In all species, with some exceptions, the DM yield, WSC, ADF, CF, and NDF increased, and CP, DMD, and ash decreased with the development stages. For S. rosmarinus, the lower and higher DM yield with values of 8.11 and 16.90 t/ha were obtained in the vegetative and flowering stages, respectively. The highest and lowest CP in S. fruticosa (17.73 and13.31%), S. rosmarinus (13.05 and 9.62%), and A. leucoclada (10.19 and5.29%) were obtained in flowering and seed ripening stages, respectively. In S. rosmarinus, DMD decreased in the flowering stage compared to the vegetative stage (from 70% to 65%), but its value increased again in the seed production stage and reached to 90%. However, in Suaeda and Atriplex, there was no significant variation at different growth stages. Our results clearly showed that Suaeda fruticosa having a higher DM yield in the flowering stage (16.20 t/ha) coupled with higher CP (18.04%) (p<0.5) recommended for cultivation as forage sources and combating desertification in Khuzestan province, Iran.