Field and Modelled Maize (Zea Mays) Response to Water Stress at Different Growth Stages

Agyare, W. A., Freduah B. S., Ofori, E., Kpongor, D. S., & Antwi, B. O.

Water is becoming scarce in arid, drought prone and even high rainfall areas due to rainfall variability and uneven distribution resulting from changing climate. Therefore, sustainable and innovative management of agricultural water resources are urgently required. This study was undertaken to determine how efficiently water can be managed in irrigated maize cultivation under scarce water conditions in the tropics. The study involved planting maize in the field to evaluate the growth and yield response to water stress at different growth stages. Also the crop model DSSATv4 was used to evaluate maize yield response to water stress at the different growth stages (i.e. seedling, knee-height, tasselingsilking and grain filling) by imposing water stress for a period of 14 days. Randomised complete block design with four replicates were used for the field experiment. The effect of water stress at these stages of development on plant height, girth, leaf surface area, number of kernels, grain yield were evaluated. Results were analysed statistically using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) at 95% confidence interval. Results of the study showed that most of the vegetative and yield parameters were affected to varying degrees by water deficits in the soil profile during the various monitored stages. The highest yield was observed from the unstressed plots which had water throughout the growth period of the maize. Short duration (14 days) water stress during the tasseling-silking caused the highest grain yield reduction of 5 and 27% for the model and field experiments respectively.