The research objectives were to examine the effect of soil nutrient status on the growth rate, reproductive development, yield components and yield of maize in a long-term trial. On the Experimental Farm of the University of Pretoria, treatments selected for this investigation were O (control), PK (nitrogen deficient), NK (phosphorus deficient), NP (potassium deficient), NPK (balanced nutrient), and WNPKM (mixture of balanced nutrient and manure). Growth analyses were performed, embryonic tassel and ear development recorded, developmental stages and rate of tasseling and silking were monitored while yield components were determined at maturity. The balanced nutrient treatment (WNPKM) plants showed the highest growth rate and produced the highest biomass while the P and K deficient treatments resulted in low growth rates and low biomass. The PK and NPK treatments were intermediate in terms of growth rate and biomass production. The WNPKM, NPK and PK treatments exhibited a high net assimilation rate (NAR) and crop growth rate (CGR), illustrating that an adequate supply of N, P and K is required for high growth rate and biomass production. Plants in the WNPKM plots exhibited early tassel initiation and ear differentiation and larger reproductive organs. Reproductive development in the PK treatment was ahead of those of the NP and NPK treatments. Nutrient stress delayed initiation and differentiation resulting in smaller reproductive organs. A linear relationship was found between leaf area indices (LAI) and the sizes of the reproductive structures. The higher the LAI the larger the size of the reproductive structures. Emergence of inflorescences was timely in plants exposed to the balanced nutrient but delayed in nutrient deficient treatments. Grain yield and the yield components were positively affected by the balanced nutrient treatment while the nutrient stress treatments reduced the yield. Copyright 2008, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria. Please cite as follows: Bello, ZA 2008, Effect of soil nutrient status on growth, reproductive development and yield components of maize in a long term field trial, MSc(Agric) dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-02122009-105701 / > E1251/gm
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2008.