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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346470

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Yield and water use of drought-tolerant maize hybrids in a semiarid environment

Author
item Zhao, Jin - Texas Agrilife Research
item Xue, Qingwu - Texas Agrilife Research
item Jessup, Kirk - Texas Agrilife Research
item Hao, Baoxhen - Texas Agrilife Research
item Hou, Ziaobo - Texas Agrilife Research
item Marek, Thomas - Texas Agrilife Research
item Xu, Wenwei - Texas Agrilife Research
item Evett, Steven - Steve
item O`shaughnessy, Susan
item Brauer, David - Dave

Submitted to: Field Crops Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2017
Publication Date: 11/9/2017
Citation: Zhao, J., Xue, Q., Jessup, K., Hao, B., Hou, Z., Marek, T., Xu, W., Evett, S.R., O'Shaughnessy, S.A., Brauer, D.K. 2017. Yield and water use of drought-tolerant maize hybrids in a semiarid environment. Field Crops Research. 216:1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.11.001.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.11.001

Interpretive Summary: Irrigation water shortage is a challenge to sustainability of grain corn production in the Texas High Plains. A team of Texas A&M and USDA ARS researchers studied use of drought-tolerant hybrids as a critical management strategy for maize production under water-limited conditions by irrigating at both 100% of crop water demand and at 50% of demand. They found that the two drought-tolerant hybrids used less soil water but had greater yield and water use efficiency than did two popular conventional hybrids. For all hybrids, reducing irrigation to 50% of crop demand caused reductions in yield of 30 to 48% and reduced water use efficiency by 8%. The newer drought-tolerant hybrids are an important part of an overall management package to sustain grain corn production in the Texas High Plains.

Technical Abstract: Irrigation water shortage is a challenge to sustainability of maize (Zea mays L.) production in the Texas High Plains. Adoption of drought-tolerant (DT) hybrids is a critical management strategy for maize production under water-limited conditions. The objective of this study was to investigate the differences in soil profile water extraction patterns, evapotranspiration (ET), yield, and water use efficiency (WUE) in maize hybrids differing in drought tolerance characteristics. Field experiments were conducted in 2014 and 2015 in two conventional (33D53AM and N74R) and two DT hybrids (P1151AM and N75H). The hybrids were grown under two water regimes (I100 and I50, referring to meet 100% and 50% of ET requirement, respectively). Comparing the well-watered plants at I100, water stress at I50 reduced seasonal ET by 22-41%, grain yield by 30-48% and yield components by 6-41%; however, water stress only reduced WUE by 8%. Under water-limited conditions at I50, two DT hybrids consistently had 3-6% smaller seasonal ET than the two conventional hybrids. Compared with the Pioneer conventional hybrid 33D53AM, the AQUAmax® DT hybrid, P1151AM, extracted less soil water but had greater yield and WUE at both water regimes. Similarly, the Agrisure Artesian DT hybrid, N75H, extracted less soil water from the soil profile than did the conventional hybrid, N74R. Less soil water extraction (SWE) for DT hybrids was found during the vegetative stage. However, there were no significant differences in SWE among hybrids during the reproductive stage.