Three popular daffodil varieties determined to be highly salt tolerant

November 17, 2014

BALTIMORE, MD - As the world's diminishing fresh water resources are increasing allocated for human use, agricultural and horticultural production operations must rely more often on the use of brackish, saline, or reclaimed water for irrigation. These saline-rich water sources often contain electrical conductivities that can negativity affect plants' ability to thrive. Salinity is particularly problematic for ornamental plants such as daffodils because of the potential for damage to plants' aesthetics and visual qualities.

In the September 2014 issue of HortScience, Maren Veatch-Blohm, Douglas Sawch, Nicole Elia, and Dominic Pinciotti from the Biology Department at Loyola University, Maryland, presented a study of 'Tete-a-Tete', 'Dutch Master', and 'Ice Follies' daffodils. These three early to midseason cultivars are consistently ranked in the top five daffodils for sales and production. "Our previous research showed that moderate salinity (up to 50 mM NaCl) did not have an effect on growth or flower production of these three cultivars regardless of when salinity exposure began," noted lead author Veatch-Blohm. "In this study we wanted to determine levels of salinity these three cultivars could tolerate while maintaining visual quality."

The scientists planted narcissus bulbs in October each year for 3 consecutive years, and examined how salinities ranging from 0 to 300 mM NaCl affected growth, flower production, and leaf physiology of the three cultivars. Analyses showed that anthesis (the time during which the flowers are fully open) and flower duration in 'Tete-a-Tete' were unaffected by salinity, but the number of flowers produced was negatively affected (reductions of 50% or more) by salinities of 150 mM NaCl and above. Sodium accumulation occurred at or above 50 mM NaCl in 'Tete-a-Tete', but at salinities greater than 150 mM NaCl in 'Dutch Master' and only in the 300-mM NaCl treatment in 'Ice Follies'.

"Despite the Na+ accumulation in the leaves, the plants in most of the salinity treatments were able to maintain a K+:Na+ ratio above 1, which may have helped the daffodils tolerate the negative effects of Na+ and maintain good visual quality," the authors said.

"'Tete-a-Tete', 'Dutch Master', and 'Ice Follies' demonstrate salinity tolerance, which further increases their desirability for cut flower production and landscapes. Interspersing irrigation with high-quality water or a higher leaching fraction may even enable these daffodil cultivars to tolerate short-term exposure to even higher salinities, which would be particularly useful for commercial growers. We recommend that these varieties can be grown in pots for cut flower production without substantial loss of visual quality with irrigation water with an NaCl induced EC of up to 12.81 dS•m-1," noted the authors.

The scientists added that the three narcissus cultivars studied may be good candidates for planting in salinized landscapes.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at

American Society for Horticultural Science

Related Irrigation Articles from Brightsurf:

Water consumption for trees is calculated in order to design precision irrigation systems
A University of Cordoba and Spanish National Research Council research team validated an indicator based on using a tree's temperature to calculate relative water consumption at an almond tree plantation

Water-saving alternative forage crops for Texas livestock
With increasing drought conditions in the Texas High Plains, researchers test sorghum and pearl millet as alternatives to corn.

Technology is studied that could save 12% of the energy used in pressurized irrigation
A study, performed in two Andalusian provinces, analyzed the potential of producing electricity by means of recovering hydraulic energy by implanting new technology based on pumps working as turbines

Can oilfield water safely be reused for irrigation in California?
Reusing low-saline oilfield water mixed with surface water to irrigate farms in the Cawelo Water District of California does not pose major health risks, as some opponents of the practice have feared, a study led by Duke University and RTI International researchers finds.

Expansion, environmental impacts of irrigation by 2050 greatly underestimated
New research suggests that the amount of farmland that will need to be irrigated to feed the global population by 2050 could be up to several billion acres, far higher than scientists currently project.

Turned-down temperatures boost crops' penchant for production
Drought and heat put stress on plants and reduce grain yield.

Irrigation alleviates hot extremes
Researchers from ETH Zurich and other universities found evidence that expanding irrigation has dampened anthropogenic warming during hot days, with particularly strong effects over South Asia.

Specifying irrigation needs for container-grown plants
Open-field production of 524,000 irrigated acres of horticultural plants in the United States used 205 billion gallons of water in a recent year.

Water management grows farm profits
A study investigates effects of irrigation management on yield and profit.

Oil and gas wastewater used for irrigation may suppress plant immune systems
A new Colorado State University study gives pause to the idea of using oil and gas wastewater for irrigation.

Read More: Irrigation News and Irrigation Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to