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Acta Agron Sin ›› 2015, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (12): 1906-1914.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2015.01906

• RESEARCH NOTES • Previous Articles    

Effects of Sowing Time on Spring Maize (Zea mays L.) Growth and Water Use Efficiency in Rainfed Dryland

LU Hai-Dong,XUE Ji-Quan*,HAO Yin-Chuan,ZHANG Ren-He,GAO Jie   

  1. College of Agronomy, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China?
  • Received:2015-01-07 Revised:2015-07-20 Online:2015-12-12 Published:2015-08-28
  • Contact: 薛吉全, E-mail: xjq2934@yahoo.com E-mail:lhd2042@163.com
  • Supported by:

    This research was supported by the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest of China (201203031-7) and Shaanxi Science and Ttechnology Key Projects (2013K01-11) and the Basic Scientific Research Business Special Fund of Northwest A&F University (Z109011111) and Doctoral Start-up Funding of Scientific Research.


To solve the problem of incomplete and irregular maize seeding growth and low and unstable yield in the semiarid region of Weibei Shaanxi Province, we designed six sowing times to study their impact on spring maize growth and development,, dry matter production, grain yield, water use efficiency and environmental factors. The results showed that maize growth period was shortened with postponing sowing time, the vegetative growth stage and the overlapping stage of vegetative and reproductive growth had the variations from 2 to 19 days. But reproductive growth stage was relatively stable, with the change from –3 to 5 days. In a certain range of time, dry matter production per plant in different sowing treatments was not obvious different, however, dry matter accumulation in spikes after flowering, yield and water use efficiency in treatments with appropriate sowing time were 4.0%–23.6%, 3.9%–24.5% and 6.6%–14.5% higher respectively, than these with early sowing time or delayed sowing time, resulting from the changed soil water content by adjusting the sowing date. Yield was highly correlated with soil moisture content in a certain sowing date, rainfall before flowering, effective accumulated temperature after flowering and sunshine hours after flowering. Thousand grain weight was highly correlated with sunshine hours after flowering. In the treatments with early sowing time, the main factor affecting maize yield was the poor soil moisture content that caused less low effective panicle in unit area and low emergence rate. In the treatment with later sowing time, the main factors affecting yield were the decreased effective accumulated temperature and sunshine hours during the reproductive growth stage, resulting in less dry matter accumulation after flowering and lower thousand grain weight. In the treatment with suitable sowing time, actual harvesting panicles and dry matter accumulation of female ear after flowering increased, and water use efficiency was improved. Considering ecological factors and result in this study, the best suitable maize sowing time should be before May 4th for drought avoidance and maize high yield in this region. The research results provide effective cultivation techniques to avoid drought stress for spring maize in this area.

Key words: Spring maize, Sowing time, Drought, Growth and development, Water use efficiency

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