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Water deficit stress effects on corn (Zea mays, L.) root: shoot ratio

J. G. Benjamin, D. C. Nielsen, M. F. Vigil, M. M. Mikha, F. Calderon
Open journal of soil science 2014 v.4 no.4 pp. 151-160
Zea mays, biomass, bulk density, corn, crop rotation, developmental stages, irrigation management, root shoot ratio, roots, shoots, silt, silt loam soils, soil degradation, tillage, water content, water stress
A study was conducted at Akron, CO, USA, on a Weld silt loam in 2004 to quantify the effects of water deficit stress on corn (Zea mays, L.) root and shoot biomass. Corn plants were grown under a range of soil bulk density and water conditions caused by previous tillage, crop rotation, and irrigation management. Water deficit stress (Dstress) was quantified by the number of days when the water content in the surface 0.3 m deviated from the water content range determined by the Least Limiting Water Range (LLWR). Root and shoot samples were collected at the V6, V12, and R1 growth stages. There was no significant correlation between Dstress and shoot or root biomass at the V6 growth stage. At the V12 and R1 growth stages, there were negative, linear correlations among Dstress and both root biomass and shoot biomass. The proportional decrease of shoot biomass was greater than the proportional decrease in root biomass, leading to an increase in the root:shoot ratio as water deficit stress increased at all growth stages. Determining restrictive soil conditions using the LLWR may be useful for evaluating improvement or degradation of the soil physical environment caused by soil management.