Sowing date affects maize development and yield in irrigated Mediterranean environments
Maresma Galindo, Ángel
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Timely sowing is critical for maximizing yield for both grain and biomass in maize. The effects of early (mid-March), normal (mid-April), and late (mid-May) sowing date (SD) were studied over a three-year period in irrigated maize under Mediterranean conditions. Early SD increased the number of days
from sowing to plant emergence. Late SD reduced the number of days to plant maturity, and had higher forage yields, higher grain humidity, and taller plants. The average grain and forage yields achieved were 13.2 and 21.3 Mg ha-1; 14.0 and 25.1 Mg ha-1; and 12.8 and 27.6 Mg ha-1, for crops with early, normal, and late SD, respectively. The data support the general perception of farmers that April sowings are the most appropriate in the area where the experiments were carried out. Early SD resulted in lower population densities, while later SD did not yield (grain) as high. However, late SD produced taller plants that contributed to achieve higher forage yields. Late SD could be interesting for double annual forage cropping systems. Sowing at the most appropriate time, when the soil is warm, ensures a good level of maize grain production. Future research could focus in the effect of SD for total annual yields in double-annual cropping systems.