Selecting maize for rapid kernel drydown: timing of moisture measurement and relationship to corn heat units, rainfall and solar radiation.

Reid, L.M., Morrison, M.J., Zhu, X., Wu, J.-H., Woldemariam, T., Voloaca, C., and Xiang, K. (2014). "Selecting maize for rapid kernel drydown: timing of moisture measurement and relationship to corn heat units, rainfall and solar radiation.", Maydica, 59(1), pp. 9-15.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that maize ear moisture measured using a modified Electrophics Moisture Meter model MT808 was highly correlated to kernel moisture and could be used as a selection tool in breeding maize genotypes with faster rates of kernel drydown. Such a tool would need to be standardized for practical and routine use in a breeding program with large numbers of plants. The objective of this study was to determine the optimum time for measuring ear moisture using this meter. In a split-plot design with three replicates in 2007, 2008 and 2009, ear moisture of six inbred lines and eight F1 hybrids were measured weekly from one to eight weeks post-silking using a modified MT808 moisture meter. To determine if multiple ear moisture readings (EMRs) could be made on the same ear, an additional treatment was added so that all eight readings were made on the same ear. There was a positive correlation between weekly EMRs readings done on separate ears and those done on the same ear, indicating that repeated readings, if desired, could be made on the same ear. Significant genotypic differences in EMRs were found five to eight weeks post-silking. The EMRs at week one, five, and eight could be used to calculate a daily drydown rate (DDR). Maize genotypes (hybrids and inbreds) could be divided into four groups based on their DDRs during development as: high-high, high-low, low-high, and low-low DDRs from weeks one to five and five to eight, respectively. Genotypes with higher DDRs from weeks one to five tended to have overall higher DDRs by eight weeks post-silking. Inbred lines with higher DDRs at either stage expressed this trait in their hybrid crosses. This non-destructive method will improve selection for fast kernel drydown in maize breeding programs, especially in short-season areas.

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