Responses of slenderleaf rattlebox (Crotalaria ochroleuca) to water deficit

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Research Paper 01/12/2013
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Responses of slenderleaf rattlebox (Crotalaria ochroleuca) to water deficit

P.A. Sikuku, D.M. Musyimi, S. Kariuki, S.V. Okello
J. Bio. Env. Sci.3( 12), 245-252, December 2013.
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Abstract

Water deficit affects plant growth and development thus affecting crop productivity. It is the major a biotic stress experienced in the vast semi arid and arid regions of Kenya and the world as a whole. Water deficit mainly causes reduction in plant growth and development. Crotalaria ochroleuca is an important indigenous leafy vegetable which is a legume grown and consumed in Kenya and Tanzania and other parts of Africa. The slender leaf rattlebox is very rich in protein, calcium, iron, Beta carotene and ascorbic acid and therefore can contribute to good human health therefore increased production of this vegetable should be used to solve the problem of malnutrition in the country and also act as food security. A study was conducted to evaluate the responses of slender leaf rattlebox to Water deficit. The study as carried out at the University Botanic Garden. Twenty seeds of slender leaf rattlebox were arranged in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with six treatments and four replications. After 15 days of germination, the plants were thinned up to four plants per pot and subjected to six treatments viz: watering daily (U), watering after 3 days (V), watering after 6 days (W), watering after 9 days (X), watering after 12 days (Y) and watering after 15 days (Z). Data on growth parameters (shoot height, leaf length, leaf width and number of leaves per plant) were collected on weekly basis. Leaf area, shoot/root fresh and dry weights, leaf chlorophyll concentration at different water regimes was also determined. Data collected was subjected to Analysis of variance (ANOVA) using CO-STAT statistical package and treatment means were separated and compared using least significance difference (LSD). The results show that Crotalaria ochroleuca seedlings are very sensitive to water deficit conditions. Water deficit significantly (P ≤ 0.05) decreased the shoot heights, leaf number, leaf area, shoot and root fresh and dry weights and chlorophyll content in the Crotalaria ochroleuca seedlings. The study indicated 55 % reduction in shoot height, 90 % reduction in leaf area, 71% in fresh weight and 90% reduction in dry weights at water deficit treatments compared to the control plants. It may be recommended that for proper growth and development of Crotalaria ochroleuca plants, daily watering or at least once in three days should be carried out.

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