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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

A Leaf Area Index Model for Corn with Moisture Stress Reductions1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 79 No. 6, p. 1008-1014
    Received: Nov 3, 1986

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  1. T. K. Flesch and
  2. R. F. Dale2



The leaf area index (LAI) of a crop is an input in many agronomic models, but is time consuming to measure. An accurate method of estimating LAI is needed. Using measurements from 72 plots over 17 yr, a model was developed to predict corn (Zea mays L.) LAI based on a normalized thermal crop calendar (NC). The seasonal change in LAI was divided into three periods: 1) planting to silking; 2) silking to the start of rapid senescence; and 3) rapid senescence. The LAI data during the first period were fitted with a logistic function of NC and the maximum leaf area per plant (LAmax) using plot-years with no moisture stress. The LAmax was predicted using the population density and a hybrid coefficient. The decline in LAI during the second period was predicted with NC, the maximum LAI, and a hybrid coefficient. During the third period, LAI prediction was based on the number of days past the beginning of rapid senescence. Leaf area measurements in plot-years with moisture stress were used to develop a stress growth factor (SGF) to reduce the growth of LAI in the first period. The SGF was determined from the daily ratios of actual to potential evapotranspiration (ET/PET). Daily ET/PET values < 1.00 reduced LAI growth. Moisture stress did not affect LAI during Periods 2 and 3. The error of predicted LAI for independent plot-years averaged 19% for the first period, 11% for the second, and 58% for the period of rapid senescence. The model is recommended for broader testing and use.

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