Maize seedling emergence in response to climatic variability in a tropical rainforest area

Chris Adegoke FAYOSE, Morakinyo Abiodun Bamidele FAKOREDE


Environmental factors causing low seedling emergence often observed in tropical maize (Zea mays L.) are poorly documented. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of weather factors on maize seedling emergence at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching and Research Farm (OAU TRF). Five maize varieties sown weekly, in 3-replicate RCBD experiments throughout the 2016 and 2017 cropping seasons, were used to monitor emergence percentage (E %), emergence index (EI) and emergence rate index (ERI). Climatic data were obtained from the automatic weather station located on the farm. Analysis of variance revealed highly significant (P ≤ 0.01) environmental effect for all traits. Soil moisture (Sm), relative humidity, air temperature, heat unit and soil heat flux (SHF) showed significant (P ≤ 0.05) correlation coefficients with all traits, but there was no relationship between the emergence traits and grain yield. Stepwise multiple regression and sequential path coefficient analyses indicated that increased Sm, rather than rainfall per se, increased the speed of emergence. Minimum air temperature and SHF with direct effects, and heat unit with indirect effect, negatively affected emergence the most. Relatively low Tmin and SHF, along with just enough Sm maximized seedling emergence in the rainforest agro-ecology of southwestern Nigeria.


climatology; crop phenology; growth analysis; seedling vigour; Zea mays L.

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