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Research articles

ScienceAsia 41(2015): 229-235 |doi: 10.2306/scienceasia1513-1874.2015.41.229


Poor post-silking kernel development limits summer maize yield in the North China Plain


Hongbin Taoa, Laikun Xiaa,b, Lina Xua,c, Lihua Lua,d, Pengyu Jina, Bo Minga, Caicai Wanga,e, Pu Wanga,*

 
ABSTRACT:     Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum)/summer maize (Zea mays) rotation is a major system in the North China Plain. The wheat yield target was achieved recently, whereas the maize yield has been static since the 2000s, even with high density planting and fertilizer input. This study analyses the factors limiting maize growth and yield. Maize yields from eight field trials (2006–2011) were classified into five levels: low yield (<8.25), farmer yield (8.25–9.75), experimental yield (9.75–11.25), record high yield (11.25–12.75), and target yield (>12.75) t/ha. Shoot dry weight, nitrogen accumulation, and leaf area index at critical stages, yield, and yield components were measured. Grain yield fluctuated from 6.4–13.8 t/ha (10.1 t/ha on average). Insufficient kernel number per ear and low kernel weight limited further yield improvement. Shoot dry weight, leaf area index, and shoot N-accumulation before silking did not vary among the different yield levels, whereas after silking these parameters were significant larger at high yield levels. It can be concluded that low kernel number per ear across yield levels was related to source limitation pre-silking. Additionally, low kernel weight was due to poor post-silking dry matter production. However, the potential of yield increment through increasing source size was limited under the current system. Strategies to enhance post-silking leaf and root function shall therefore be considered to improve post-silking dry matter production and transportation under a high density and high nitrogen input system.

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a Department of Agronomy, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
b The Cereal Crops Institute, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou 450002, China
c School of Science and Technology, Henan Institute of Science and Technology, Xinxiang 453003, China
d Institute of Cereal and Oil Crops, Hebei Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050035, China
e Shanghai Organic and Beyond Corp., Shanghai 200120, China

* Corresponding author, E-mail: wangpu@cau.edu.cn

Received 14 Sep 2014, Accepted 31 Aug 2015