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Corn Morphology, Mass, and Grain Yield as Affected by Early-Season Red: Far-Red Light Environments


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 50 No. 1, p. 273-280
    Received: Oct 22, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): destolte@wisc.edu
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  1. Melinda Y. Markham and
  2. David E. Stoltenberg *
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1575 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706


The spatial arrangement among plants affects both vegetative and reproductive meristem development. More axillary meristems develop at lower plant densities, which are associated with relatively high red:far-red light ratios (R:FRs; 645:735 nm). However, little is known about the effect of R:FR on corn (Zea mays L.) productivity. We conducted field research to determine the effect of early-season (VE–V7 corn) R:FR environments on corn morphology and productivity. Low, control, and high R:FR treatments were established by varying corn plant density (107,600, 53,800, and 3000 plants ha−1, respectively). At canopy closure (V7 corn), R:FR in the low, control, and high R:FR treatments was 0.23, 0.49, and 0.99, respectively. Each treatment was subsequently thinned to 3000 plants ha−1 to avoid confounding effects of R:FR treatments and shading among plants. Grain yield per plant in the high R:FR treatment was 1.5 and 2.0 times greater than in control and low R:FR treatments, respectively, across years. Greater yield in the high R:FR treatment was attributed to greater tiller grain yield. Soil moisture and nutrient availability were similar among R:FR treatments. These results indicate that early-season R:FR was an important factor affecting corn productivity. Greater understanding of the R:FR-dependent pathway that controls axillary meristem development may provide direction for increasing productivity of elite nonprolific corn genotypes.

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