News, Publications

Growing maize in clumps as a strategy for marginal climatic conditions: a new publication

July 28th, 2010

Growing maize in clumps as a strategy for marginal climatic conditions

Authors: Mohankumar Kapanigowda, B.A. Stewart, Terry A. Howell, Hanumanthrao Kadasrivenkata and R.L. Baumhardt

Under dryland conditions of the Texas High Plains, maize (Zea mays) production is limited by sparse and erratic precipitation that results in severe water stress particularly during grain formation. When plant populations are reduced to 2.0–3.0 plants m−2 to conserve soil water for use during grain filling, tillers often form during the vegetative growth and negate the expected economic benefit. We hypothesized that growing maize in clumps spaced 1.0 m apart would reduce tiller formation, increase mutual shading among the plants, and conserve soil water for grain filling that would result in higher grain yield. Studies were conducted during 2006 and 2007 at Bushland, TX. with two planting geometries (clump vs. equidistant), two irrigation methods (low-energy precision applicator, LEPA, and low-elevation spray applicator, LESA) at three irrigation levels (dryland, 75 mm and 125 mm in 2006; and dryland, 50 mm and 100 mm in 2007). For dryland plots in 2007, clump plants had only 0.17 tillers (0.66 tillers m−2) compared with 1.56 tillers per plant (6.08 tillers m−2) for equidistant spacing. Tillers accounted for 10% of the stover for the equidistant plants, but less than 3% of the grain. Clump planting produced significantly greater grain yields (321 g m−2 vs. 225 g m−2 and 454 g m−2 vs. 292 g m−2 during 2006 and 2007, respectively) and Harvest Indexes (0.54 vs. 0.49 and 0.52 vs. 0.39 during 2006 and 2007, respectively) compared with equidistant plants in dryland conditions. Water use efficiency (WUE) measurements in 2007 indicated that clumps had a lower evapotranspiration (ET) threshold for initiating grain production, but the production function slopes were 2.5 kg m−3 for equidistant treatments compared to 2.0 kg m−3 for clump treatments. There was no yield difference for method of irrigation on water use efficiency. Our results suggest that growing maize in clumps compared with equidistant spacing reduced the number of tillers, early vegetative growth, and Leaf Area Index (LAI) so that more soil water was available during the grain filling stage. This may be a useful strategy for growing maize with low plant populations in dryland areas where severe water stress is common.

Citation:

Mohankumar Kapanigowda, B.A. Stewart, Terry A. Howell, Hanumanthrao Kadasrivenkata, R.L. Baumhardt, Growing maize in clumps as a strategy for marginal climatic conditions, Field Crops Research, Volume 118, Issue 2, 8 August 2010, Pages 115-125.

Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6T6M-504TP6B-1/2/14ef186775fbfc480427243d4d0a9a71