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In order to establish the optimal level of irrigation and seeding rate to achieve high grain yield and water use efficiency (WUE) for durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) in a Tunisian semi-arid region, three durum wheat varieties (Maâli, Nasr and Chili) were evaluated under four levels of irrigation (I3: 70% of field capacity (FC); I2: 40% FC; I1: 10% FC; I0: rainfall) and five seeding rates (D1: 250, D2: 300, D3: 350, D4: 400, D5: 450 seeds/m2). The level of irrigation significantly affected all traits except for 1000-kernel weight. I3 induced maximum grain yield (GY) (106.7 q/ha), number of spikes/m2 (607.8), number of kernels/spike (51.09), 1000-kernel weight (50.45 g) and biomass yield (BY) (349 q/ha) while the rainfed treatment (I0) showed the lowest values. GY and BY were positively correlated (r = 0.6) with number of spikes/m2. Highest WUE of grain yield (WUEg) and of biomass yield (WUEb) were observed under moderate irrigation (I2) and exceeded values obtained under the highest water regime (I3) by 11.08% and 7.9%, respectively. Seeding rate D3 showed lowest mean values of GY (71.10 q/ha), BY (238 q/ha), WUEg (1.49 kg/m3) and WUEb (4.96 kg/m3). WUEg was positively correlated to harvest index (r = 0.45).The WUEg and GY of Maâli (91.63 q/ha) were significantly higher than those of Nasr (83.88 q/ha) and Chili (66.16 q/ha). However, Chili had the highest BY. There was no significant difference in the WUEb of all three varieties. Although there was no interaction between water regimes, seeding rates and varieties, a moderate irrigation regime and high or low seeding rate are recommended to achieve high WUE.
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