Effect of Planting Density on Root Lodging Resistance and Its Relationship to Nodal Root Growth Characteristics in Maize (Zea mays L.)

  •  Shengqun Liu    
  •  Fengbin Song    
  •  Fulai Liu    
  •  Xiancan Zhu    
  •  Haibo Xu    


Increase of planting density has been widely used to increase grain yield in maize. However, it may lead to higher risk of root lodging hence causing significant yield loss of the crop. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of planting density on maize nodal root growth characteristics and to analyse their relationships to root lodging resistance. Field experiment was conducted in 2010 and 2011, using two maize varieties, Zhengdan 958 (ZD) and Xianyu 335 (XY), under three planting densities, viz., 4.50, 8.25 and 12.00 plants m-2. The results showed the root failure moment, an indicator of root lodging resistance, was significantly affected by the planting density, the maize variety, as well as the crop developmental stages, and was decreased with increasing planting density. The number and the average diameter of the roots on the upper internodes (phytomer 5 to 8) were decreased with increasing planting density, whereas the maize variety had little effects on those variables. On the contrary, the root angle was less responsive to planting density but was significantly affected by the variety being that XY had larger root angle than did ZD. The root failure moment was linearly positively correlated with the total root number and the average root diameter on the upper internodes, indicating that a greater root number and a larger root diameter are important traits for enhancing root lodging resistance in maize plants.

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