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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 3, p. 760-765
    Received: July 2, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): mpopp@uark.edu
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Plant Population Density and Maturity Effects on Profitability of Short-Season Maize Production in the Midsouthern USA

  1. Michael Popp *a,
  2. Jeff Edwardsb,
  3. Patrick Manninga and
  4. Larry C. Purcellc
  1. a Dep. of Agric. Econ. and Agribusiness, 217 Agric. Bldg., Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    b Dep. of Plant and Soil Sci., 368 Ag. Hall, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078
    c Dep. of Crop, Soil, and Environ. Sci., 1366 W. Altheimer Dr., Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701


Maize (Zea mays L.) production in the Midsouthern USA has increased dramatically in recent years, primarily as a function of growing nematode pressure in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] fields as well as the increasing yield potential of maize hybrids. Traditionally, 112- to 120-d maturity hybrids (full season) have been grown using 76-cm row spacing at population densities of ≈6 to 8 plants m−2 These hybrids, however, reach the reproductive phase of development during the period of a typical midseason drought. Shorter-season (<110-d maturity) hybrids, by contrast, avoid a large portion of this drought and require substantially less irrigation. The yield potentials of short-season hybrids are similar to those of full-season hybrids, but they require substantially narrower rows (50 cm) and increased populations (10 to 12 plants m−2). In this report, economic trade-offs among irrigation, seeding rates, yield potential, and seasonal market price trends for production of short-season hybrids are evaluated. Shorter-season hybrids were comparable to longer-season hybrids in terms of yield potential and partial returns. In general, profit-maximizing seeding rates were higher for shorter-season hybrids, and higher seasonal prices were insufficient to offset higher seeding costs and thereby change optimal hybrid choice. While irrigation use was curtailed with shorter-season hybrids, irrigation savings, at current irrigation costs, were insufficient to offset higher seeding costs. Finally, using a simple decision rule of picking maize hybrid by selecting top-yielding hybrids is challenged in this study as lower-yielding hybrids with lower seeding requirements exhibited higher comparative returns than the highest-yielding hybrids at one of the locations.

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