Significance of temperature and precipitation for maize root distribution in the field
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Measurements of maize (Zea mays L.) root distribution with depth in the soil for nine years in a 11-year period revealed significantly different distribution patterns. Weather variations were expected to be related to the amount of roots found in each of the five 15-cm soil layers. The objective of this study was to attempt to explain root distribution in the field on the basis of precipitation and temperature data for the nine growing seasons.
Growing degree days (GDD), accumulated in daily increments from planting to silking, were used to describe temperature effects. Correlations were calculated for weekly time increments of GDD versus root length densities at silking in all soil layers. Root length density below 30 cm was correlated (P=0.05) with GDD for two weeks following planting, whereas no relation was found between GDD and root length density in the topsoil.
Amount of precipitation was accumulated in weekly increments from silking to planting and correlated with root length density in the soil layers at silking. This procedure evaluated the relation between precipitation and root growth during the vegetative growth period. Root length density in the 0 to 15 cm layer was found to be related significantly (P=0.05) to precipitation. The period 3 weeks prior silking gave the highest correlation coefficient (r=0.79).
Key wordsgrowing degree days precipitation root density root length
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