Wheat covers more than 2.5 million hectares in Algeria and is the main staple food crop and income generation for resources-limited farmers. Area cropped in wheat is expanding however, the quality is not well known and varies from region to region. Improvement of durum wheat quality is a major concern in Algeria to better cope with the consumers’ needs. Local landraces are highly appreciated for local bread and couscous, while the newly released cultivars quality is often affected by environmental factors. Four local durum varieties were studied in three different regions of Algeria (a sub littoral and two high plateau areas) during 2010/2011cropping season. Protein content, yellow berry and black spots on the grain levels, grain moisture level, thousand kernel weight and grain yield were analyzed. Results showed globally a P<0.01 level of spatial variation among all traits, this demonstrated a strong influence of environmental conditions on the majority of durum quality traits; varietal effects were observed in all traits except grain yield at Guelma and Setif. Protein content was higher in Tiaret reaching 17.3%. Grain yield is higher at Setif (4.5 t/ha), one to two tons per hectare more to Guelma and Tiaret. Kernel weight is higher in the high plateau areas 55.87 and 51.2 g. Yellow berry level was high at Guelma and low in the high plateaus. In rainfed conditions of semi arid areas an average production of 3.6 million tons of good quality levels of durum wheat (protein levels >12.5%, low yellow berry and black points levels) has been obtained.
Key words: Durum wheat, rainfed conditions, quality, spatial variation, high plateau, littoral area.
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