Növénytermelés / Volume 66 / Issue 1 (March 2017) / pp. 21-36


Optimization and rationalisation of the sowing date of maize hybrids with special emphasis on climate change

Our sowing date experiments took place in the Showgarden of the Institute of Plant Sciences of University of Debrecen, in years 2012–2014. In addition to a number of other examinations, our goal was to detect how the sowing date influences the emergence and plant height of maize hybrids, and how the mentioned parameters affect yield formation. During the three years of experiment, we analysed how the time of emergence and the plant height of maize hybrids with 12 different growing seasons changed with 3 different sowing dates.

In those 3 years, thus in 2012 as well, we examined the correlation between the date of emergence and the yield, depending on the sowing date. We observed that, even the beginning of the development of the plant, the characteristics of the emergence process affects the yield. In 2012, the germination and emergence of hybrids were slow, as the number of days passed from sowing till emergence were more than 20. Between the time of emergence and the yield of maize a very close correlation was detected (R2=0.8941). The correlation between the sowing date and the time of emergence appeared also in 2013. From sowing to emergence the number of days passed was 12 with the 1st, 9 with the 2nd and 11 with the 3rd sowing date. The yield, in the average of the hybrids, with the different sowing dates, was also significantly (R2=0.8082) affected by the time of emergence. Among the tested years, 2014 was the only year when no correlation between the sowing date and the time of emergence was detected. Due to the low temperature of the soil (8.0 °C) at sowing and the small amount of rain in March, the number of days that passed till emergence was 19 with the 1st sowing date, while it was 12 both with the 2nd and the 3rd sowing dates.

The analysis also showed how the plant height of the maize hybrids changed, confirming that the extent of the differences caused by the crop year and the sowing dates was considerable. Pearson’s correlation analysis revealed a positive correlation between the plant height and the yield in 2012 and 2013, with values 0.586 and 0.410, which means a medium close stochastic dependence. The effect of the sowing date was determining only in 2014, when the correlation between the plant height and the sowing date was 0.543. The most outstanding year was 2012, when plants, except for hybrids Sarolta, DKC 4590 and PR37N01, were the highest in the average of sowing dates. 2013 was a similar year to that, but in 2014 plants were significantly shorter. The biggest difference was detected with hybrid DKC 4590, its plant height in 2014 was 57.2 cm less compared to 2012 and 65.0 cm less than that in 2013.

Based on the test results, it can be concluded that for the yield of maize hybrids the interaction between the sowing date and the time of emergence can be determining. It is an important fact that the sowing technique, the circumstances of production and the crop year together have a strong effect on the time of emergence of maize. Plant height of maize is primarily genetically determined, but many other factors determine the length of the stem. Due to the good stem strength of modern hybrids, even almost a 300 cm plant height did not cause lodging of the tested hybrids, which characteristic will still be one of the most important ones to improve plants for.

Keywords: maize, sowing date, time of emergence, plant height

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Editor-in Chief:

János Nagy


Debreceni Egyetem
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