Yield, Lodging, and Growth Characteristics in Sweet Corn as Influenced by Ethephon Timing and Rate
- J. M. Gaska and
- E. S. Oplinger
Summer storms frequently lodge sweet corn (Zea mays L.), making harvest difficult while reducing yields. Ethephon (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid), a plant growth regulator, has the potential to be an anti-lodging agent in sweet corn. Field research was conducted on a Piano silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Argiudoll) at the Arlington Research Station near Arlington, WI, in 1985 and 1986 to determine the effect of ethephon timing and rate on sweet corn. Four rates (0, 140, 280, and 420 g ha2212;1) of ethephon were applied at three application timings [tassel elongation (TE), TE + 4 to 6 d, and TE + 9 to 13 d] to two plant densities of ‘Jubilee’ sweet corn. In 1985, plant densities of 49 400 and 66 700 plants ha2212;1 were used. In 1986, an additional ethephon rate of 70 g ha2212;1 and plant densities of 59 200 and 73 900 plants ha2212;1 were used. In hand-harvested plots, ethephon altered yield and plant growth both years. High rates of ethephon reduced lodging by 87%, plant and ear height by 16 and 13%, respectively, and increased brace root development by 50%. High plant densities increased yields 8% and lodging 23%. Timing of ethephon application on yield had variable results. Yields were reduced 13% with the high rate of ethephon at the early and middle application times, but were not altered at the late application time. When the potential for lodging is high, ethephon at the higher rates and late application times may be effective in preserving sweet corn yields.
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