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ARS Home » Plains Area » Akron, Colorado » Central Great Plains Resources Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346908

Research Project: Adaptation of Dryland Cropping Systems for the Central Great Plains Region to Extreme Variation of Weather and Climate

Location: Central Great Plains Resources Management Research

Title: Drought genetics have varying influence on corn water stress under differing water availability

Author
item Nielsen, David
item Schneekloth, Joel - Colorado State University

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/21/2018
Publication Date: 4/12/2018
Citation: Nielsen, D.C., Schneekloth, J.P. 2018. Drought genetics have varying influence on corn water stress under differing water availability. Agronomy Journal. 110:983-995. http://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2017.10.0579.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2017.10.0579

Interpretive Summary: Corn hybrids with drought genes may be able to withstand water stress conditions and maintain yield better than hybrids which do not have the drought gene. This three-year study found that the presence of the drought gene in three different hybrids did not produce greater yields than the same hybrids without the drought gene when grown with and without water stress. This result of no effect of the drought gene on yield was the same for corn was grown under no water stress, for corn that was grown under water stress that became increasingly severe during the course of the growing season, and for corn that was grown under water stress during the vegetative stage but experienced no water stress during the reproductive stage.

Technical Abstract: Irrigated corn (Zea mays L.) in the Great Plains will be increasingly grown under limited irrigation management and greater water stress. Hybrids with drought genetics may decrease the impacts of water stress on yield. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of drought genetics on corn water stress, water use, grain yield, yield components, and water use efficiency under varying water availability. A three-year (2009-2011) study was conducted at Akron, CO in which corn water use, yield, and yield components were measured for isolines of three corn hybrids with and without drought genetics grown under three water treatments (fully irrigated, no irrigation until just prior to tasseling followed by full irrigation, and limited irrigation throughout the growing season). There was no yield loss from the drought genetics under non-water-stressed conditions. There was no effect of drought genetics on water use, yield, or water use efficiency. However, there was a 7% increase in kernels per plant in 2011 and a 5% increase in 1000 kernel weight in 2010 due to the presence of the drought gene. It does not appear that the non-commercial, experimental drought genetics tested in this experiment produced any consistent effect on mitigating water stress in corn or on corn water use and yield under varying levels and timings of water stress. Further research is be needed in which consistent levels of water stress are imposed during reproductive and grain-filling growth stages in order to verify the effects of drought genetics on corn yield.