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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 3, p. 341-344
    Received: Oct 3, 1973

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Development and Distribution of the Corn Root System Under Field Conditions1

  1. D. B. Mengel and
  2. S. A. Barber2



The rate of corn (Zea mays L.) root growth in the field and root distribution in the soil as related to stage of plant growth has not been studied in detail. To obtain more information we measured the length, fresh weight, and distribution of corn roots at time intervals between planting and harvest in 1970 and 1971. The study was made on corn growing on Chalmers silt loam soil at Lafayette, Indiana. Grain yields were 6,160 kg/ ha in 1970 and 11,700 kg/ha in 1971.

Root length and fresh weight increased rapidly for 80 days following planting, remained relatively constant for 14 days, and then decreased rapidly when the plants were in the reproductive stage. A maximum root density of 4.1 cm/cm3 occurred in the O to 15 cm zone at 79 days. The lower soil zones reached maximum root density 1 to 2 weeks later than in the O to 15 cm zone. Root density in the O to 15 cm zone was greater in cores taken midway between plants in the row than at other locations. Maximum root length was 153 cm/cm2 of surface area at 86 days.

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