Early flowering and shorter vegetative phase can be very important for wheat production in terminal drought stress condition. Earliness can minimize exposure to dehydration during the sensitive periods such as flowering and grain filling. In this research, earliness was transferred from Excalibur (donor parent) to Roshan, Mahdavi and Kalheydari (recurrent parents) cultivars using backcross method. Several back-crosses for developing BC3F2 generation were done during 2011 to 2018 at the research field of Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman. Around 1000 filial of each population were evaluated for heading time and 20 of latest heading and earliest heading filial were selected. Analysis of variance revealed that interaction of genetic background and earliness was highly significant for days to heading. This finding showed the effect of modifier genes of each background on earliness genes that transferred from Excalibur. The most response to selection for earliness was found in Roshan, followed by Kalheydari and Mahdavi backgrounds, respectively. According to results, earliness significantly improved 1000-grain weight. In addition, negative correlation between days to heading and 1000-grain weight (-0.43) confirmed the above results. Roshan, Kalheydari and Mahdavi are drought tolerant Iranian cultivars. Meanwhile, these cultivars are semi late flowering. In the present research, number of days to heading was significantly decreased in all three backgrounds. According to the present results, it can be concluded that breeding for early heading not only save water consumption, but also improved 1000-grain weight even under well-watered condition.
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