Plant Density and Nitrogen Responses of Maize Hybrids in Diverse Agro-ecologies of West and Central Africa
Maize (Zea mays L.) production in West and Central Africa is constrained by drought, low soil-N and Striga infestation. Breeders in the region have developed and commercialized extra-early and early-maturing hybrids (E-EH and EH), which combine high yield potentials with tolerance/resistance to the three stresses. Hybrids of both maturity groups are new to the farmers; thus, the urgent need to recommend appropriate agronomic practices for these hybrids. We investigated the responses of four
... sponses of four hybrids belonging to extra-early and early-maturity groups to plant density (PD) and nitrogen (N) application in five agroecologies. The EHs consistently out-yielded the E-EHs in all the five agroecologies. The hybrids showed no response to N-fertilizer application above 90 kg ha-1. All interactions involving N had no significant effect on all traits except in few cases. The E-EHs and EHs had similar response to PD; their grain yield decreased as PD increased. Contrarily, flowering was delayed and expression of some other agronomic traits such as plant and ear aspects became poorer with increased PD. Optimal yield was obtained at approximately 90 kg N ha-1 and 66,666 plants ha-1. Most of the measured traits indicated high repeatability estimates (i.e. ≥ 60) across the N levels, PDs and environments. Evidently, the hybrids were intolerant of high PD.