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Acta Agronomica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (11): 2199-2207.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2021.03049


An growing-period indicator of maize cultivars for mechanical kernel harvest

LI Lu-Lu1(), MING Bo1, CHU Zhen-Dong2, ZHANG Wan-Xu2, GAO Shang1, WANG Yi-Zhou1, HOU Liang-Yu1, ZHOU Xian-Lin1, XIE Rui-Zhi1, WANG Ke-Ru1, HOU Peng1, LI Shao-Kun1,*()   

  1. 1Institute of Crop Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences / Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology and Ecology, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Beijing 100081, China
    2Agricultural College, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832003, Xinjiang, China
  • Received:2020-08-24 Accepted:2021-03-19 Online:2021-11-12 Published:2021-08-31
  • Contact: LI Shao-Kun E-mail:lilulu19910818@163.com;lishaokun@caas.cn
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2016YFD0300110);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31971849);China Agriculture Research System(CARS-02-25);Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Project of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences


The high kernel moisture of maize (Zea mays L.) at harvest stage limits the field-application of mechanical kernel harvesting. The breeding and selection of fast dry-down cultivars is the key to solve this problem. However, there is still a lack of such indicators for evaluating the kernel dry-down rate in China. To explore the indicators, the crop growth and the kernel dry-down of two cultivars, Xianyu 335 and Zhengdan 958, were investigated across various maize belts in China from 2014 to 2018. Between the two cultivars, there were significant varietal differences in thermal times (TT) at the stages of planting-maturity (P-M), planting-25% moisture (P-25%), and maturity-25% moisture (M-25%), respectively. The TTP-M on average were 3039°C d (2752-3249°C d) for Xianyu 335 and 3090°C d (2750-3546°C d) for Zhengdan 958, with a difference value of 51°C d, and the corresponding coefficient of variations (CV) of TTP-M were 4% and 6%, respectively. The TTP-25% on average was 3097°C d (2920-3392°C d) for Xianyu 335 and 3309°C d (2980-3613°C d) for Zhengdan 958, with a larger difference value of 212°C d, while their CV were 4% and 5%. In several, the TTM-25% for Xianyu 335 and Zhengdan 958 were 66°C d (0-287°C d) and 166°C d (36-338°C d) with the CV of 131% and 54%. On account of its better reflection of kernel dry-down rate among cultivars, the TTP-25% could be considered as the growing period indicator for the breeding and selection of cultivars fitting to present mechanical kernel harvesting. In addition, this indicator might vary with region, year, or planting date, the same field and year were recommended to ensure a consistent environmental condition for measuring it. Conclusively, a new indicator (TTP-25%) for breeding and selection of fast dry-down hybrids was proposed, which potentially prompting maize kernel harvesting in China.

Key words: maize, kernel moisture, dry-down rate, thermal time, mechanical kernel harvest

Table 1

Dates of planting, silking, physiological maturity, 25% moisture content, and the last sampling at various experimental sites (month/day)"

年份Year 播种日期
Planting date
先玉335 Xianyu 335 郑单958 Zhengdan 958 取样结束日期
Last sampling date
25% moisture
25% moisture
2014 6/1 7/27 9/24 9/26 8/1 9/27 10/12 11/2
2017 6/18 8/10 10/20 11/2 11/22
2018 5/15 7/10 9/3 9/13 7/12 9/11 9/25 10/22
2018 6/7 8/3 10/13 10/7 7/31 10/10 10/17 10/22
Xinxiang, Henan
2015 5/31 7/28 10/2 10/3 7/28 10/3 10/12 11/14
2015 6/11 8/5 10/9 10/10 8/4 10/9 10/19 11/14
2015 6/16 8/9 10/14 10/12 8/9 10/14 10/18 11/14
2015 6/20 8/13 10/18 10/17 8/12 10/18 10/20 11/14
2015 6/30 8/22 10/24 11/11 8/23 10/21 # 11/14
2016 5/29 7/27 9/21 9/22 7/28 9/26 10/3 10/17
2016 6/4 7/30 9/26 9/27 7/31 9/28 10/13 10/17
2016 6/11 8/3 9/30 9/28 8/3 10/2 10/20 10/25
2016 6/18 8/9 10/6 10/8 8/8 10/6 # 10/25
2016 6/25 8/15 10/21 # 8/13 10/18 # 10/25
2017 6/18 8/8 10/15 10/24 8/10 10/26 11/6 12/7
Daqing, Heilongjiang
2016 4/28 8/2 10/21 10/20 8/2 11/6 # 12/4
2017 5/8 7/28 10/17 10/27 8/2 10/29 # 12/10
Changji, Xinjiang
2017 5/5 7/8 9/12 9/27 7/12 9/15 9/23 10/11
2018 5/1 7/13 9/10 9/11 7/17 10/8 10/13 10/15
新疆奇台农场 Qitai farm, Xinjiang
一分厂First farm 2016 4/18 7/12 9/24 9/20 7/17 9/21 # 10/8
二分厂Second farm 2016 4/13 7/17 9/29 # 10/2
2017 5/9 7/26 10/9 10/22 7/26 10/2 # 11/25
三分厂Third farm 2017 5/7 7/25 10/9 11/4 7/24 10/9 # 11/24
108团108 Regiment 2017 4/23 7/11 9/14 9/18 7/13 9/23 10/3 11/10

Fig. 1

Coefficient of variation (CV) as a function of Tbase when estimating thermal time duration"

Fig. 2

Thermal times of the planting-maturity, the planting-25% moisture, and the maturity-25% moisture for hybrids Xianyu 335 and Zhengdan 958 *, **, and *** indicate significantly different at the 0.05, 0.01, and 0.001 probability levels, respectively. The box represents the inter-quartile range (IQR), containing the middle 50% of samples in the Box-whisker plot (from the lower quartile to the upper quartile). The whiskers are drawn according to the Tukey method, extending to the data point that is the closest to 1.5 times the IQR below the lower quartile and above the upper quartile. The solid lines in the box denote the sample medians. • stands for outliers more than 1.5 times below or above the 1st or 3rd quartiles. + represents the sample mean."

Table 2

Factors of the thermal time from planting to 25% moisture content"

Correlation coefficient
Partial correlation coefficient
Direct path coefficient
Indirect path coefficient
x1 0.367* 0.264ns
x2 0.625** 0.657** 0.597 0.028
x3 0.518** 0.627** 0.484 0.035

Table 3

Thermal time durations for the silking-maturity, the maturity-25% moisture, and the planting-25% moisture at each experimental sites (°C d)"

Maturity-25% moisture
Planting-25% moisture
Xianyu 335
北京Beijing 1538 92 3110
新乡Xinxiang 1507 45 3043
大庆Daqing 1336 20 3188
昌吉Changji 1508 152 3267
奇台108团108 regiment, Qitai 1555 63 3285
奇台一分厂First farm, Qitai 1634 0 3124
奇台二分厂Second farm, Qitai 1283 90 3032
奇台三分厂Third farm, Qitai 1221 168 2920
极差Range 413 168 365
Maturity-25% moisture
Planting-25% moisture
Zhengdan 958
北京Beijing 1561 191 3273
新乡Xinxiang 1533 173 3264
大庆Daqing 1311 # #
昌吉Changji 1642 120 3479
奇台108团108 regiment, Qitai 1654 102 3475
奇台一分厂First farm, Qitai 1449 # #
奇台二分厂Second farm, Qitai 1388 # #
奇台三分厂Third farm, Qitai 1244 # #
极差Range 410

Table 4

Thermal time durations for the silking-maturity, the maturity-25% moisture, and the planting-25% moisture among years"

Planting dates
(°C d)
Maturity-25% moisture
(°C d)
Planting-25% moisture
(°C d)
Xianyu 335
2014/6/1 1455 38 2976
2018/6/7 1625 0 3127
Changji, Xinjiang
2017/5/5 1570 287 3392
2018/5/1 1445 18 3142
Xinxiang, Henan
2015/6/11 1535 17 3049
2016/6/11 1488 0 2946
Zhengdan 958
2014/6/1 1374 238 3234
2018/6/7 1688 87 3255
Changji, Xinjiang
2017/5/5 1524 173 3346
2018/5/1 1761 66 3613
Xinxiang, Henan
2015/6/11 1561 181 3213
2016/6/11 1527 338 3357

Fig. 3

Thermal times from planting to 25% moisture as a function of planting dates"

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