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Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira

Print version ISSN 0100-204XOn-line version ISSN 1678-3921

Pesq. agropec. bras. vol.40 no.6 Brasília June 2005 



Agronomic performance of quinoa selected in the Brazilian Savannah


Desempenho agronômico de quinoa selecionada no Cerrado brasileiro



Carlos Roberto SpeharI; Roberto Lorena de Barros SantosII

IEmbrapa Cerrados, Caixa Postal 08223, CEP 73301-970 Planaltina, DF, Brazil. E-mail:
IIEsplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco D, Edifício Anexo A, Térreo, sala 1, CEP 70043-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil. E-mail:




Twenty six breeding lines, selected from individual plant progenies of hybrids among varieties Amarilla de Marangani, Blanca de Junín, Chewecca, Faro 4, Improved Baer, Kancolla, Real, and Salares-Roja, had their agronomic characters evaluated, in Planaltina, DF, Brazil (15º36'S and 47º12'W), 1,000 masl, in randomized complete blocks, on a Ferralsol, previously limed and fertilized. Grain yield was positively associated with plant height, inflorescence length and diameter, and plant cycle. Genetic gain can be attained by selection based in these characters for commercial production of quinoa in tropical regions.

Index terms: Chenopodium quinoa, breeding line, selection, yield, Cerrado.


Vinte e seis linhagens, selecionadas em progênies de plantas individuais de híbridos entre as variedades Amarilla de Marangani, Blanca de Junín, Chewecca, Faro 4, Improved Baer, Kancolla, Real e Salares-Roja, foram avaliadas quanto ao desempenho agronômico, em Planaltina, DF, Brasil (15º36'S e 47º12'W), 1.000 m de altitude, em delineamento de blocos ao acaso, em um Latossolo Vermelho-Escuro, previamente corrigido e adubado. O rendimento foi associado positivamente com altura de plantas, comprimento e diâmetro da inflorescência e ciclo da planta. Ganho genético pode ser obtido na seleção baseada nessas características, para o cultivo comercial da quinoa em regiões tropicais.

Termos para indexação: Chenopodium quinoa, linhagem, seleção, rendimento, Cerrado.



Introduction of direct drilling in Brazilian Savannah has the opened way to diversification that mitigates negative effects of soybean monocropping by protecting the soil in the dry season and providing additional income to farmers (Spehar & Santos, 2002).

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.), Chenopodiaceae, is an alternative crop with favourable features for cropping systems in the savannah (Spehar, 1998). It is a major source of quality food that has been domesticated in Andean region for thousands of years (Spehar & Santos, 2002).

Quinoa is classified as a short day plant, although it is originated from a low-latitude and high-altitude environment. It also responds to changes in temperature, and the plant cycle results of these two factors conjugation. Early experimentation in the savannah indicates the high yield potential of locally selected lines (Spehar & Souza, 1993).

This work aimed at evaluating savannah selected genotypes from a broad-base hybridization in rainy and dry season sowings, and to determine adaptation characters for quinoa cultivation in low altitude and high temperature conditions of the tropics.

The germplasm was obtained from progenies grown in the dry season (winter), in Planaltina, DF, Brazil, located at 15º36'S and 47º12'W on an elevation of 1,000 masl. Individual plants with reduced branching and compact panicles were selected from hybrids among the varieties Amarilla de Marangani, Blanca de Junín, Chewecca, Faro 4, Improved Baer, Kancolla, Real and Salares-Roja, of Bolivian, Chilean and Peruvian origin (Carbone, 1986). These varieties represent a range of response to photoperiod, temperature and radiation, basead on their leaf appearance, onset of flowering, and reproductive phase (Bertero, 2001).

The experiments were conducted at Embrapa Cerrados (Savannah National Research Centre), Planaltina, DF, Brazil. The soil is a Dark-Red Latosol, Oxisol (Typic Haplustox, fine, kaolinitic, isohyperthermic, USDA; Ferralsol, FAO), whose physical and chemical characteristics have already been reported (Santos el al., 2003).

Plant progeny selection was carried out during five growing cycles to obtain twenty six breeding lines, standardized for plant height (PH), days of maturity or growth period (GP), stem diameter (SD), plant colour and inflorescence type. They were tested in a randomized complete block design with three replications, during two consecutive dry seasons (winter), and one rainy season. Each plot consisted of seven rows, spaced 0.20 m apart, 3.5 m long. The harvest area consisted of five central rows, discarded 0.25 m at extremes. Before the start of each experiment, a fertilisation of 30 kg ha-1 nitrogen (N), 46 kg ha-1 phosphorus (P), and 60 kg ha-1 potassium (K) was used in the furrow. Nitrogen was also applied in band, 35 days after plant emergence, at the rate of 30 kg ha-1.

Data were collected and statistically analyzed per individual relatively to days of flower differentiation, days to maturity (when 95% of the plants changed colour and were ripe), plant height, inflorescence type and size, stem diameter and colour, grain yield, total plant production and saponin (by the foam column method).

Mean values and correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the relationships among characters: plant cycle (PC), plant height (PH), grain yield (GY), total plant dry matter (PDM), inflorescence length (IL), diameter (ID) and type (IT), stem diameter (SD), stem colour (SC), foam column (FC), and harvest index (HI) proportion of grain to plant dry matter (g 100 g-1) (Tables 1 to 4).









All accessions had a vegetative period of 19 to 23 days after emergence. At this point, flower differentiation took place at plant apex in all plots. Savannah temperatures – higher than those in the Andean region – is a possible explanation for the narrow range among genotypes related to the onset of flowering (Bertero, 2001).

Grain yield was higher in dry than in rainy season. Genotypes did not show correspondingly reduction for total plant dry matter. This is reflected in the lower harvest index (HI). The best performers for grain yield did not always coincide in the seasons, although there were some stable genotypes, such as the Q15. Maximum value, 2,600 kg ha-1, obtained in dry season, was superior to average in the Andean altiplano, but inferior to that obtained in commercial crops (Spehar & Santos, 2002). High yields have also been achieved in temperate climates of the world with selected genotypes (Jacobsen et al., 1996).

Plant cycle was longer in the second dry season experiment than in the previous one, but in both it was shorter than that observed in the Andes and Europe (Jacobsen et al., 1996; Bertero, 2001). Variation in days to maturity was found to be similar among quinoa genotypes, independently of sowing dates.

Plants were considerably higher in the two sowings than in the Andean region, where quinoa grows for a long period under the effect of low temperatures. Number of days from sowing to maturity was consistently different among the genotypes for the two sowing dates.

Grain yield was positively associated with plant height, length and diameter of inflorescence, and plant cycle. Selection for lateness has resulted in more productive genotypes, similarly to yield obtained in high latitude (Jacobsen et al., 1996).

Positive association among dry matter production, plant height and grain yield was expected; late maturity genotypes grew taller than the ones that matured early, being superior in other yield components. There are exceptions for harvest index, i.e., low values for late and high values for early maturity genotypes, which shows the possibility to develop quinoa for high grain and biomass productions to suit farming systems.

Inflorescence length and diameter were positively associated with grain yield, which indicates that selection by these characters may result in more productive genotypes. Positive correlation between plant height and inflorescence length suggests that high grain yield can be attained by selecting for stem/inflorescence ratio.

Stem diameter was also positively correlated with grain yield and biomass production; this is confirmed by field observations indicating that, under low population, plants increase their stem diameter and branching, and compensate for grain yield.

Additional studies are needed to improve crop performance, such as: selection for tolerance to high aluminium-low calcium in the low profile of soils and drought; relay sowing for moisture and time economy; effect of biomass and crop residue on soil protection and cropping sequences; definition of crop husbandry for high grain and forage production (Spehar, 1998; Spehar & Santos, 2002).

The agronomic performances shown by these genotypes are indicative of the potential for crop improvement, confirmed in more recent work (Spehar & Santos, 2002). It is expected by enlarging genetic variability that new cultivars will be acquired to suit production systems and extend commercial cultivation of quinoa in the tropics.



To Embrapa, CNPq and Universidade de Brasília, for technical and financial support.



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SPEHAR, C.R.; SOUZA, P.I. de M. de. Adaptação da quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) ao cultivo nos cerrados do Planalto Central: resultados preliminares. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira, v.28, p.635-639, 1993.        [ Links ]



Received on June 17, 2004 and accepted on January 24, 2005

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