Corn Yield Response to Reduced Water Use at Different Growth Stages


To develop an efficient water use strategy for crop irrigation, we need to know how much water can be reduced without decreasing yield. A study was designed to determine corn growth stages at which water could be reduced without affecting grain yield, and at what soil moisture level water deficit stress begins in the plants in a silt loam soil. An experiment was conducted in a randomized complete block with a 3 × 4 factorial design in four replications, where treatments consisted of three soil moisture levels [100%, 75%, and 50% of field capacity (FC) of a silt loam soil by weight] and four growth stages [fourteen leaf stage (V14), silking (R1), milk (R3), and dent (R5) stages] in a greenhouse. Growth stages at the reproductive and grain fill stages of corn were selected because this study was intended for the Mississippi Delta, where there is frequent drought during these growth stages making irrigation necessary for corn production, whereas there is usually adequate rainfall during the vegetative growth stages. Results from this study showed that reducing soil moisture from 100% FC (fully irrigated) to 75% FC of a silt loam soil starting at the R1 growth stage in corn did not reduce yield significantly compared to yield from the 100% FC, while saving a significant amount of water. Physiological investigations at the three soil moisture treatments showed that a mild moisture deficit stress might have started at the 75% FC treatment. With further investigation, if savings in water at 75% FC result in a significant reduction in energy cost, it may be profitable to reduce soil moisture to 75% FC in a silt loam soil.

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Kebede, H. , Sui, R. , Fisher, D. , Reddy, K. , Bellaloui, N. and Molin, W. (2014) Corn Yield Response to Reduced Water Use at Different Growth Stages. Agricultural Sciences, 5, 1305-1315. doi: 10.4236/as.2014.513139.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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