Articles

Effect of leaf area on maize productivity


Abstract


Maize (Zea mays L) leaves provide energy for growth and development. Increases in plant densities the past 75 years have contributed to increased maize grain yields. No recorded change has been observed in leaf area per plant during this period, but some change may have occurred. Plant density increases are associated with in¬creases in leaf area per-unit of land mass. Grain yield increases resulted from hybrids with improved tolerance to higher plant densities. Recently developed maize hybrids have upright leaves and smaller tassels allowing more light to penetrate the leaf canopy. Tolerance to increased plant density is directly related to intra and inter-plant shading plus changes in leaf area per plant may change leaf canopy structure. To evaluate the concept, maize leaf area affects grain yield, we developed high- and low leaf area hybrids. Objectives were to evaluate productivity of high and low leaf area maize hybrids at three high plant densities for two years. Averaged over three plant densities low leaf area hybrids produced significantly more grain than high leaf area hybrids. Low leaf area hybrids tolerated higher plant density better than high leaf area hybrids. Results indicate low leaf area hybrids are superior in several maize productivity traits.

Keywords

leaf area per plant; grain yield; plant density; leaf canopy

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