The effect of planting date on maize: Silage yield, starch content and leaf area

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Four field experiments were established in the Waikato and Manawatu regions over two years to determine planting date (PD) influence on growth, silage yield (SY) and starch content of seven maize (Zea mays) hybrids. Silage yield response to PD was best described using quadratic regression models. The PD at which silage yield was maximised (optimum PD) was later in the cooler, high latitude environment of Manawatu (23 October) than the more northerly locations in Waikato (9-15 October). In both regions, planting 2 or 3 weeks either side of the optimum PD reduced SY by <5%. In Waikato, the optimum PD in a warmer than average spring (+1°C) was 1-2 weeks earlier. Under non-limiting moisture conditions later planting reduced yields in both Waikato (24.22 versus 21.06 t/ha) and Manawatu (30.09 versus 22.50 t/ha). This was attributed to decreased temperatures (<15°C) and radiation (<17 MJ/m2 /d) during grain filling. Due to more rapid reductions in autumn temperature and radiation in Manawatu, yield decline beyond the optimum PD was greater (-183 kg/ha/d (0.6%), R 2 =0.81) than Waikato (-50 to -85 kg/ha/d (0.3%), R 2 ≥0.67). Starch content was highest for plantings before 6 November, dropping thereafter with harvest index. Highest maximum leaf area index was observed at mean daily temperatures of 17-19°C.
harvest index, leaf area index, starch, maize silage
Agronomy New Zealand, 2014, 44 pp. 27 - 35