We characterized yield-relevant characters and their variations over genotypes and environments (locations and years) by examining two rice varieties (9746 and Jinfeng) with high yield potential. 9746 and Jinfeng were planted in two locations of Shanghai, China, during 2005 and 2006. The results show that there was a large variation in grain yield between locations and years. The realization of high yield potential for the two types of rice was closely related to the improved sink size, such as more panicles per square meter or grains per panicle. Stem and leaf biomasses were mainly accumulated from tillering stage to heading stage, and showed slow decline during grain filling. Meanwhile, some photosynthetic characters including net photosynthesis rate (P n), leaf area index (LAI), specific leaf area (SLA), fluorescence parameter (maximum quantum yield of PSII, F v/F m), chlorophyll content (expressed as SPAD value), as well as nutrient (N, P, K) uptake were also measured to determine their variations over genotypes and environments and their relationships with grain yield. Although there were significant differences between years or locations for most measurements, SLA at tillering and heading stages, F v/F m and LAI at heading stage, stem biomass at heading and maturity stages, and leaf nitrogen concentration at tillering and heading stages remained little changed, indicating their possible applications as selectable characters in breeding programs. It was also found that stem nitrogen accumulation at tillering stage is one of the most important and stable traits for high yield formation
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