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Maize Productivity As Influenced by Mixed Nitrogen Supplied Before or After Anthesis

below, F. E., Gentry, L. E.
Crop science 1992 v.32 no.1 pp. 163-168
Zea mays, nitrogen fertilizers, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, mixtures, crop yield, dry matter accumulation, vegetative growth, application timing, grains
Maize (Zea mays L.) plants produce higher grain yields when supplied with mixtures of NO₃ and NH₄ than when supplied only with NO₃. This study determined whether mixed N should be available before anthesis, or after it, or continuously to elicit yield increases. During vegetative development, plants of four hybrids were grown with nutrient solutions containing N as either all NO₃ or a 50:50 (w/w) mixture of NO₃-N and NH₄-N. At anthesis, one-half of the plants in each group were switched to the other N solution so that four treatment groups were obtained. Plants were harvested at physiological maturity, separated into components, and analyzed for dry matter, reduced N, P, and K. Compared with continuous NO₃, mixed N supplied for at least a portion of the life cycle increased the accumulation of shoot reduced N and P, but not K compared with continuous NO₃. Average increases in grain yield obtained when mixed N was available during vegetative development were 9% when plants were switched to NO₃ at anthesis and 11% for continuous mixed N. In contrast, mixed N supplied only during the postanthesis period did not significantly increase yield compared with plants receiving continuous NO₃. In all cases, mixed-N-induced yield increases were associated with increased kernel number. Regardless of timing of availability, mixed N increased the proportion of dry matter partitioned to reproductive fractions (grain, husk, shank, and cob). These results confirm that mixed N nutrition increases grain yield of maize and suggest that vegetative development is the most crucial time to supply mixed N. This study was part of Project no. 15-0390 of the Agric. Exp. Stn., College of Agric., Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was supported in part by a grant from Dow Chemical Co., Midland, MI.