Growth analysis of dry matter accumulation and N uptake of forage maize cultivars affected by N supply
The productivity of eight forage maize cultivars (Zea mays L.) in response to N was investigated in a 3-year field experiment located in Northern Germany. Nitrogen fertilizer applications were zero, 50 and 150 kg N/ha given each year shortly after sowing. Each cultivar was grown on the same plot, beginning in 1993, following the ploughing up of a 2-year old grass sward, to which slurry had been added. Plants were sampled regularly for dry matter (DM) production and N uptake. A non-linear regression equation was used to compare the data. Growth analysis and N uptake characteristics (maximum crop growth rate, duration of maximum crop growth rate, period until maximum crop growth rate, maximum N uptake rate, duration of maximum N uptake rate, period until maximum N uptake rate) which derived from the function were used to compare the cultivars.
The cultivars DM yield and N uptake were highest in 1993 and declined in the next two years partly due to a decrease in soil N mineralization following the ploughing of the grass sward and partly due to the drier weather conditions during the summers of 1994 and 1995. Duration of the maximum crop growth rate was greater during the cool year of 1993. In contrast, maximum crop growth rate was at its highest in the dry vegetation period of 1995. A significant N×cultivar interaction for growth analysis characteristics (P<0·05) was found in 1995. Cultivars with a high maximum crop growth rate (above the average value of the eight cultivars tested) and a short duration of maximum crop growth rate (below the average) accumulated more DM than those genotypes which showed an inverse relationship.
Increasing N yield was determined by increased maximum N uptake rather than by a greater duration of maximum N uptake. A significant N×genotype interaction for N uptake parameters (P<0·05) was found in 1994 and 1995. With some exceptions, cultivars with a high maximum N uptake rate (above average) accumulated more N per unit area compared to those genotypes which had low uptake rates. The exceptions had a longer duration of uptake, which could not, however, compensate for the lower rate. Maximum N uptake rate occurred earlier and duration of maximum N uptake rate increased compared to the start and duration of maximum crop growth rate. Especially in 1995, the amount of N taken up before the day of maximum crop growth rate accounted for 71% of total N uptake. The N uptake rate and the amount of accumulated N until the day of maximum crop growth rate were highly correlated with DM yield.
This result indicates the availability of genotypic variability in crop growth and N uptake rate to assist the improvement of DM yield by selection.(Received June 29 1998)
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