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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2018, Vol. 17 Issue (08): 1745-1757    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(17)61877-X
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How plant density affects maize spike differentiation, kernel set, and grain yield formation in Northeast China?
ZHANG Ming1, CHEN Tao1, Hojatollah Latifmanesh1, FENG Xiao-min1, CAO Tie-hua2, QIAN Chun-rong3, DENG Ai-xing1, SONG Zhen-wei1, ZHANG Wei-jian1 
1 Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology and Ecology, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100081, P.R.China
2 Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Changchun 130124, P.R.China
3 Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Harbin 150086, P.R.Chin
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摘要  Received  14 August, 2017    Accepted  20 December, 2017

A two-year field experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of plant density on tassel and ear differentiation, anthesis-silking interval (ASI), and grain yield formation of two types of modern maize hybrids (Zhongdan 909 (ZD909) as tolerant hybrid to crowding stress, Jidan 209 (JD209) and Neidan 4 (ND4) as intolerant hybrids to crowding stress) in Northeast China.  Plant densities of 4.50×104 (D1), 6.75×104 (D2), 9.00×104 (D3), 11.25×104 (D4), and 13.50×104 (D5) plants ha–1 had no significant effects on initial time of tassel and ear differentiation of maize.  Instead, higher plant density delayed the tassel and ear development during floret differentiation and sexual organ formation stage, subsequently resulting in ASI increments at the rate of 1.2–2.9 days on average for ZD909 in 2013–2014, 0.7–4.2 days for JD209 in 2013, and 0.5–3.7 days for ND4 in 2014, respectively, under the treatments of D2, D3, D4, and D5 compared to that under the D1 treatment.  Total florets, silking florets, and silking rates of ear showed slightly decrease trends with the plant density increasing, whereas the normal kernels seriously decreased at the rate of 11.0–44.9% on average for ZD909 in 2013–2014, 2.0–32.6% for JD209 in 2013, and 9.7–28.3% for ND4 in 2014 with the plant density increased compared to that under the D1 treatment due to increased florets abortive rates.  It was also observed that 100-kernel weight of ZD909 showed less decrease trend compared that of JD209 and ND4 along with the plant densities increase.  As a consequence, ZD909 gained its highest grain yield by 13.7 t ha–1 on average at the plant density of 9.00×104 plants ha–1, whereas JD209 and ND4 reached their highest grain yields by 11.7 and 10.2 t ha–1 at the plant density of 6.75×104 plants ha–1, respectively.  Our experiment demonstrated that hybrids with lower ASI, higher kernel number potential per ear, and relative constant 100-kernel weight (e.g., ZD909) could achieve higher yield under dense planting in high latitude area (e.g., Northeast China).
Keywords:  corn        dense planting        spike differentiation        anthesis-silking interval (ASI)        kernel set  
Received: 14 August 2017   Accepted:
Fund: This research was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB150404), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31671642), the Key Program of Science and Technology Department of Jilin Province, China (LFGC14205), and the Innovation Project of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS-XTCX2016008).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence SONG Zhen-wei, Tel: +86-10-62156856, E-mail:    
About author:  ZHANG Ming, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

ZHANG Ming, CHEN Tao, Hojatollah Latifmanesh, FENG Xiao-min, CAO Tie-hua, QIAN Chun-rong, DENG Ai-xing, SONG Zhen-wei, ZHANG Wei-jian. 2018. How plant density affects maize spike differentiation, kernel set, and grain yield formation in Northeast China?. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 17(08): 1745-1757.

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