Selecting Genotypes of Valencia Peanuts for Salt Tolerance and Effective Saline Water Utilization
More than one million acres of New Mexico’s land area are irrigated annually for crop production. Fresh water scarcity, escalating energy costs for deep well pumping, and increasing population demands for fresh water have restricted the expansion of irrigated agriculture. Problems such as these have caused a decrease in irrigated acreage devoted to low value crops (per unit area), such as wheat and grain sorghum.
Hydrological survey results indicate that New Mexico has an abundance of underground saline water (about 15 billion acre feet). Because of its high content of total dissolved solids, saline water cannot be used for industrial or domestic use, or for traditional irrigated agriculture. Desalinization is expensive and requires a large amount of energy. Agricultural scientists are selecting and breeding crops of economic importance to New Mexico that could produce under culture with high levels of salinity. This project describes such an attempt with Valencia peanuts, a relatively profitable crop under cultivation in the high plains of eastern New Mexico.
Several hundred genotypes of world collections of Valencia peanuts have been collected and screened at levels of salinity that cause severe injury to commercially grown Valencia peanut cultivars. At seedling stage, plants of several accessions were greener, more vigorous and had higher dry weight than the standard cultivars. More research needs to be done in using tissue and cell culture techniques for stress screening purposes and in regenerating the promising callus and cells into agronomically desirable peanut plants while retaining the salt tolerance property.