Information on most-adapted species is required to increase the economic sustainability and the utilization of cool-season feed legumes in southern Europe. This study aimed to compare pea (Pisum sativum L.), faba bean (Vicia fiba L.), narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.), and white lupin (L. albus L.) across Italian environments which contrasted for geoclimatic area (subcontinental or Mediterranean) and sowing season (autumn or late-winter). Each species was represented by two cultivars tending to different geoclimatic adaptation. Data Set I included eight cultivars and five environments; Data Set 2 comprised two pea and two faba bean cultivars, and 10 environments. On average, pea exhibited higher grain yield than any species in subcontinental environments and lupin species in Mediterranean environments. Crossover genotype x environment interaction (GEI) occurred between species in Data Set I and between cultivars within species in both data sets (P < 0.05). Additive main effects and multiplicative interaction (AMMI) analysis of grain yield data indicated that species and cultivar adaptation patterns were more influenced by the climatic area than by location, sowing time, or test year within climatic area, highlighting the interest of comparing species on the basis of locally-adapted cultivars. Entry grain yield was associated with higher aerial biomass across subcontinental environments, and earlier phenology and higher harvest index across Mediterranean environments. In the species comparison based on locally top-performing cultivars, white lupin outyielded other species for crude protein in both climatic areas, whereas pea outperformed others across subcontinental environments and did not differ from faba bean or white lupin across Mediterranean environments for production of milk feed units (P < 0.05).
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