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Crop Science Abstract -

Effect of Early Defoliation on Maize Growth and Yield: an Eleven-year Perspective


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 28 No. 2, p. 371-373
    Received: Mar 30, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. R. Kent Crookston  and
  2. Dale R. Hicks
  1. Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108.



We previously reported that grain yield of the maize (Zea mays L.) hybrid ‘Trojan TXS 85’ was increased following 100% defoliation at the five-leaf stage. The objective of this study was to extend those observations and to examine the relationship between early defoliation, soil-water use, and yield. Eight additional years of defoliation trials (plants 100% defoliated at the five-leaf stage) were conducted in the field with Trojan TXS 85. The soils at the two experimental sites are a Webster clay loam (Typic Haplaquoll) and a Nicollet clay loam (Aquic Hapludoll). Defoliation decreased grain yield 3 of the 8 additional yr, and had a nonsignificant (negative) effect the remaining 5 yr. Positive yield response to defoliation was associated with low yields and with low end-of-season available soil water. It thus appears that an early reduction in vegetative growth of maize might help avoid drought stress in regions where late-season water stress is common. Early defoliation does not appear to be a practical management approach in high-yielding environments, such as the upper Midwest, where soil-water deficits are infrequent and unpredictable.

Contribution from the Dep. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota. Paper no. 15140 of the Scientific Journal Series, Minnesota Agric. Exp. Stn.

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