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Radiation Use Efficiency and Biomass Production in Soybean at Different Plant Population Densities


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 42 No. 1, p. 172-177
    Received: Mar 13, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): lpurcell@uark.edu
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  1. Larry C. Purcell *a,
  2. Rosalind A. Ballb,
  3. J. D. Reapera and
  4. Earl D. Voriesc
  1. a Dep. of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Arkansas, 1366 W. Altheimer Drive, Fayetteville, AR 72704
    b Univ. of Saskatchewan, Dep. of Plant Sciences, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK 5A8 S7N, Canada
    c Dep. of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Univ. of Arkansas, Northeast Research and Extension Center, P.O. Box 48, Keiser, AR 72351


As population density (POP) increases in a soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] crop, maximum light interception (LI) occurs earlier in the season. Earlier canopy closure would be expected to increase the cumulative radiation intercepted. We hypothesized that if radiation use efficiency (RUE) was constant across a range of population densities in a nonstressful environment, then increasing POP would increase biomass at the end of the season. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the response of total biomass produced during the season to cumulative intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) in field experiments at Fayetteville, AR, with soybean cultivars selected from Maturity Groups (MGs) 00 to IV. Additionally, from field experiments at Keiser, AR, with MG IV soybean cultivars, we assessed the response of RUE to POP. At both locations with MG IV cultivars, a late sowing date shortened the life cycle of the crop by 13 to 25 d compared with an early sowing date, resulting in less PAR accumulated. Similarly, early maturing cultivars had less time for PAR and biomass accumulation relative to later maturing cultivars. At Keiser, in three of the four environments, RUE decreased linearly by 26 to 30% as the POP increased from 7 to 135 plants m−2 Final biomass at the end of the season, as a function of PAR accumulated from emergence to the full-seed-size stage of development, responded linearly to intercepted PAR up to ≈400 MJ m−2 Above 400 MJ m−2, the response was curvilinear with little increases in biomass >700 MJ m−2 Our data clearly indicate that RUE decreased as POP increased and that maximum biomass production in these environments was not limited by intercepted PAR.

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Copyright © 2002. Crop Science Society of AmericaPublished in Crop Sci.42:172–177.