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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 80 No. 6, p. 865-870
    Received: June 23, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Interactive Water and Nitrogen Effects on Senescence of Maize. II. Photosynthetic Decline and Longevity of Individual Leaves

  1. D. W. Wolfe ,
  2. D. W. Henderson,
  3. T. C. Hsiao and
  4. A. Alvino
  1. D ep. of Vegetable Crops, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853
    I stituto Irrigazione CNR, Via Argine 1085, Napoli-Ponticelli, Italy



Stress-induced senescence is frequently alluded to, but interactive effects of water and N deficits on leaf longevity and on physiological changes associated with leaf aging have received little attention. A 2-yr field experiment with maize (Zea mays L.) was conducted on Yolo loam (fine-silty, mixed, nonacid, thermic Typic Xerorthents) with four treatments: N fertilized (180 kg N/ha) with (NI) and without (ND) irrigation; and no N applied with (01) and without (OD) irrigation. Size and longevity measurements were made of leaves at all nodal positions, and leaves 5, 11, and 15 (counting up from stem base) were monitored for changes in photosynthetic capacity (PC), N concentration, and chlorophyll content (CHL). Leaf PC was correlated with percent N during senescence in all treatments (r2 = 0.86), but an occasional midday depression in PC, unrelated to leaf N status, was observed in severely water stressed plants. Chlorophyll and percent N were also correlated (r2 = 0.80), but initial onsets of decline in these two parameters often differed by several days. Nitrogen deficits were less severe in 1983 than 1982, but in both years lack of applied N had an early impact and reduced longevity of lower leaves. In 1982, N deficiency caused a 50% reduction in leaf peak values of percent N, CHL, and PC, and the decline in leaf 5 was most rapid in low N plants. Water stress intensified as stored soil water was gradually depleted, and the most rapid decline and earliest complete senescence of upper leaves (11 and 15) occurred in the ND treatment. These results indicate that early stress effects on leaf area and ear development affected subsequent demands for water and N, which in turn altered patterns of leaf senescence.

Joint contribution of the College of Agric. and Life Sciences, Cornell Univ., and the Univ. of California, Davis. Cornell Vegetable Crops Paper 861.

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