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Effect of plant population and time of harvest on yield and quality of maize zea mays grown for silage 1. yield and chemical composition and sampling procedures for large areas



Effect of plant population and time of harvest on yield and quality of maize zea mays grown for silage 1. yield and chemical composition and sampling procedures for large areas



New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 24(3-4): 285-292



Maize (hybrid PX610) was sown at 85,000 (treatment 1), 181,000 (treatment 2) and 362,000 (treatment 3) seeds per hectare in large plots (1.0 ha in 1975-1976; 0.5 ha in 1976-1977). In 1976-1977 (year 2) deaths of maize plants were greatest during the first 110 days of growth and amounted to 10, 11 and 24% of established seedlings for treatments 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Total dry weight per plant, the proportions of leaves, stem, grain, cob and tassel, and the concentrations of N, P, K, Na, Ca and Mg, were assessed at intervals until the hard dent growth stage (30-35% total plant DM [dry matter]), .apprx. 160 days from sowing. High plant population densities had little effect on mineral concentration, but reduced total dry weight per plant and reduced the weight of individual shoot components, especially leaves, stems and grain. For treatments 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in year 2, grain represented 38, 28 and 21% of plant dry weight at 144 days from planting and 49, 43 and 33% of plant dry weight at 167 days from planting. At the hard-dent growth stage in 1975-1976 (yr 1), sampling estimates of DM yield per hectare of 21.3, 27.4 and 36.1 t ha-1 for treatments 1, 2 and 3, respectively, were 12, 38 and 68% greater than yields measured by harvesting whole plots. In year 2, yield estimates of 22.0, 25.0 and 24.4 t ha-1 of DM for these treatments were 8, 14 and 4%, respectively, above yields measured by total harvest. The optimum plant population for maize silage, the growth and development of maize grown at different plant populations, the quality of the crop at ensiling and problems encountered in accurately sampling large plots of maize for estimation of DM yield per hectare are discussed. [A major constraint to animal production systems in New Zealand is the physiological limitation of pasture yield (Campbell et Bryant 1978). High-yielding crops such as maize offer a possible means of increasing feed production and thereby animal production per hectare.].

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