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DECLARATION

CERTIFICATION

DEDICATION
I dedicate this research project to my beloved parents. May Allah Almighty have mercy
on them, ameen.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION............................................................................................................................1
CERTIFICATION.........................................................................................................................2
DEDICATION................................................................................................................................2
3

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT............................................................................................................3
TABLE OF CONTENTS...............................................................................................................3
ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................................4
REFERENCES............................................................................................................................25

ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY


Maize (Zea mays L.) is the most popular among the most important cereal crops (maize,
wheat and rice) in the world due to its high yielding, easy of processing, readily digested and
costs less than other cereals (Jaliya et al., 2008).Maize is a cereal crop that is grown widely
throughout the world in a range of agroecological environments. More maize is produced
annually than any other grain. About 50 species exist and consist of different colors, textures and
grain shapes and sizes. White, yellow and red are the most common types. The white and yellow
varieties are preferred by most people depending on the region (IITA, 2013).
Maize is a very important crop in Nigeria, as it provides an inexpensive nutritious food
that helps to sustain rapidly increasing population (Amudalat & Ephraim, 2004). Apart from
providing the staple diet for the population as a major source of carbohydrate, maize is used in
livestock diet, in the textile industry and also in the pharmaceutical industry (Kolawole & Joyce,
2009). Maize has immense potential in the tropics and yield of up to 7.5 t/ha can be obtained if
the crop is properly managed. Unfortunately, yields are still generally low below 5t/ha in the
tropics (FAO, 2007). In addition to meeting the food requirement of human and livestock, maize
is put to many industrial uses. It is a well-known fact that the yield potential of a crop is mainly
dependent upon its genetic makeup as well as the environment in which it is grown (Asgharet al.,
2010). Maize has been in the diet of Nigerians for centuries. It started as a subsistence crop and

has gradually become more important crop. Maize has now risen to a commercial crop on which
many agro-based industries depend on as raw materials (Iken & Amusa, 2004).
Because of the differences in yield potential of the ecological zones in Nigeria, testing of
maize varieties across the country became an established practice in maize breeding. These trials
were called cooperative maize yield trials (Chinwuba, 1962; Iken & Amusa, 2004).

1.2

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM


In spite of the increasing relevance and high demand for maize in Nigeria, yield across

the country continues to decrease with an average of about 1t/ha which is the lowest African
average yield recorded (Fayenisin, 1993).This low yield tendency is attributed to rapid reduction
in soil fertility, failure to identify high yielding varieties and negligence of soil amendment
among others (Kim, 1997).
For good growth and high yield, the maize plant must be supplied with adequate nutrients
particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The quantity required of these nutrients
particularly nitrogen depends on the pre-clearing vegetation, organic matter content and tillage
method among others (Kang, 1981).
Adequate but economical planting spacing must be maintained between maize stands if
good yield is to be realized. Proper choice of varieties with superb features is also a necessary
step in ensuring optimum yield of maize.
Maize plant population, for maximum economic grain yield varies from 30,000 to 90,000
plants/ha, planting date, water availability and soil fertility are also factors influencing maize
yield (Sangoi, 2001). High stands have allowed maize to intercept and use solar radiation more
efficiently, contributing to the remarkable increase in grain yield potential. Pepper (1974) also

reported that increased plant densities promote utilization of solar radiation by maize canopies.
Optimum maize plant population also increases the number of grains/cob, 1000-grain weight and
grain yield of maize (Sabir et al. 1987).
Among agronomic practices, which affect the yield, spacing has a special significance
since it is ultimately related with plant population, root development, plant growth and fruiting
(Davi et al., 1995). A significant linear increase in yield of maize with increasing rate of N
application has been reported by Khan et al. (1994).Nitrogen also improved the oil content of
maize grain (Muhammad et al., 1992). Grain yield increased linearly with increasing plant
density until other production factors were limiting (Anjum et al. 1992).

1.3

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES


The general objective of this study is to determine the response of maize varieties

(SAMMAZ 28 and 29) to NPK fertilizer and intra-row spacing under Northern Guinea Savannah
agro-ecological Zone.
The specific objectives are:

To determine the effect of NPK fertilizer on growth, yield and yield components of two

varieties of maize.
To determine the effect of intra-row spacing on growth, yield and yield components of

two varieties of maize.


To determine the effect of variety on growth, yield and yield components of two varieties
of maize.

1.7

JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

Maize being a very important crop that provides food for human and livestock as well as
raw materials for industries, has a paramount role to play in ensuring the food security of Nigeria
especially considering the dramatic upsurge of human population in the country.
Any research work geared towards identifying the best agronomic practices inherent for
realizing the maximum yield of maize is therefore of inestimable relevance and is also
indispensable. It is therefore pertinent to disclose that, findings from this work will be of benefit
to maize farmers in terms of improving their productivity, researchers who may build upon this
work, extension workers who may find the work, a valuable source of information to be
conveyed to their clients as well research institutes.

CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1

MAIZE
Millions of people in the world depend on maize for food and livelihood.

Maize is consumed roasted, boiled, fried, pounded or fermented (Agbato,


2003).Maize (Zea mays L.) is said to be a versatile crop across a range of ecological zones. In
Nigeria, it is well adapted to the humid condition and the traditional method of cultivation in the
tropic (Agboola & Makinde, 2008). It is high yielding, easy to process, readily digested and
cheaper than other cereals (IITA, 2007).Every part of the maize has economics values. The
grains, leaves stalk, tassel and the cob can be used to produce a large variety of food and nonfood products(Langer & Hill, 1991).In developed countries, it is an important source of such
industrial products as corn sugar, corn oil, flour, starch, syrup, brewers grit and alcohol (Dutt,
2005). Maize is a major component of livestock feed, and it is palatable to pigs, goats, sheep,
cattle and poultry (Enujeke, 2013).

2.2

EFFECT OF NPK FERTILIZER ON YIELD AND GROWTH OF MAIZE


The low fertility status of most tropical soils hindered maize production as maize has a

strong exhausting effect on the soil. It was generally observed that maize fail to produce good
grain in plots without adequate nutrients (Adediran & Banjoko, 2003).
2.2.1

Inorganic Fertilizer in Maize Production


Inorganic fertilizers are synthesized materials or substances that supply one or more of

the nutrients required by plants, they are also called artificial fertilizers. These may be described
1

as straight, where only one of the three primary ingredients of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and
Potassium (K) are the only nutrient contents, which are known as N,P and K fertilizers or
compound fertilizer when elements are mixed intentionally. They are applied to the soil and/or
directly to the plant in order to increase yields by supplying nutrients in available form (IITA,
2007).Increasingly high cost of fertilizer has made the knowledge of the effectiveness of its use
by maize and other plants inevitable (Moll et al., 1981).
Inorganic fertilizers exert strong influence on plant growth, development and yield
(Stefano et al., 2004).The availability of sufficient growth nutrients from inorganic fertilizers
lead to improved cell activities, enhanced cell multiplication and enlargement and luxuriant
growth (Fashina et al., 2002). Luxuriant growth resulting from fertilizer application leads to
larger dry matter production (Obi et al., 2005) owing to better utilization of solar radiation and
more nutrient (Saeed et al., 2001).
However, Ayoola and Adeniyan (2006) had reported that the use of inorganic fertilizer
has not been helpful under intensive agriculture because it is often associated with reduced yield,
nutrient imbalance, leaching and pollution of groundwater (Sridhar and Adeoye, 2003).

2.2.2

Effect of NPK Fertilizer on Growth and Yield of Maize


It was generally observed that maize fail to produce good grain in plots without adequate

nutrients (Adediran & Banjoko, 2003). Inorganic fertilizer exerts strong influence on plant
growth, development and yield (Stefano et al., 2004).The availability of sufficient growth
nutrients from inorganic fertilizers lead to improved cell activities, enhanced cell multiplication
and enlargement and luxuriant growth (Fashina et al., 2002). Luxuriant growth resulting from

fertilizer application leads to larger dry matter production (Obi et al., 2005) owing better utilization of solar radiation and more nutrient (Saeed et al., 2001).
Nitrogen is the most vulnerable of all the plant nutrients in the soil; it is highlyvolatile
and readily leached. Plants absorb N from the soil solution as nitrate (NO 3) and as ammonium
(NH+4) (Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR, 2009)). Nitrogen is a vital nutrient and a
major yield-determining factor required for maize production (Adediran & Banjoko, 1995;
Subedi & Ma, 2005). It is very necessary for plant growth and makes up 1 to 4 percent of dry
matter of the plants (Anonymous, 2000). Nitrogen is a component of protein and nucleic acids
and when Nitrogen is sub-optimal, growth is reduced (Haque et al., 2001). Its availability in
sufficient quantity throughout the growing season is essential for optimum maize growth. It is
also a characteristic constituent element of proteins and also an integral component of many
other compounds essential for plant growth process including chlorophy II and many enzymes. It
also mediates the utilization of phosphorus, potassium and other element in plants (Brady &
Well, 2002). The optimal amount of these elements in the soil cannot be utilized efficiently if
Nitrogen is deficient in plant. Therefore, nitrogen deficiency or excess can result in reduction in
maize yield. Nitrogen fertility of soil has a major role in maintaining maximum seed yield of
maize (Akmal, et al., 2010).Research results have shown that various maize cultivars differ
markedly in grain yield response to nitrogen fertilization (Katsvairo et al.,2003). These findings
are supported by studies conducted by Beauchamp et al., (1982), Bako and Rusell (1980) and
Mkabela et al, (2001). According to Kamprath et al., (1982), the increase in maize grain yield
after nitrogen fertilizer is ready could be due to an increase in the number of ears per plant,
increase in total dry matter partitioned to the grain and increase in average ear weight. Oikeh,
(2003) also reported that maize cultivars differ in grain yield response to nitrogen application.

Consequently, the lack of phosphorus is as important as the lack of nitrogen in limiting


maize performance. The importance of phosphorus as yield liming factor in many Nigerian soils
is well established (Adepetu & Corey, 1976). Phosphorus plays an important part in main
physiological processes that occur within a developing and maturing plant. It is involved in
enzymatic reaction in the plant. Phosphorus is essential for cell division because it is a
constituent element of nucleoprotein which is involved in the cell reproduction process (Adepetu
& Corey, 1976). It is also a component of chemicals essential for fruit formation and crop
maturation. Phosphorus hastens ripening of fruits thus counteracting the effect of excess nitrogen
application to the soil (ICAR, 2009). It helps to strengthen the skeletal structure of the plant
thereby preventing lodging. It also affects the quality of the grains and it may increase the plant
resistance to disease.
Potassium is absorbed by plants in the form of K + ions in large amounts and can be stored
by the plants after luxury consumption (ICAR, 2009). Major functions of potassium include its
involvement in regulating the opening and closing of stomata, activation of enzymes,
maintenance of cytoplasmic pH, lodging reduction, inducement of disease resistance and
improvement of quality, size and shelf-life of flowers, grains and fruits (ICAR, 2009).
2.2.4

Factors Affecting the Influence of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium on Maize

Production
Crop responses to nitrogen fertilizer have been found to depend on soil moisture, soil
fertility as well as crop variety (Workayehu, 2000). Therefore, there could be variation in crop
response to increased nitrogen fertilization. Adequate soil moisture is necessary in order to obtain
optimum response of maize to nitrogen fertilizer. According to Onken and Wendt (1989)
application of nitrogen fertilizer did not increase water use efficiency of maize under limited soil

moisture. Workayehu (2000) revealed that under moisture stress increased nitrogen application
will increase the transpiration rate of the plant which may reduce yield. Sangoi and Almeda
(1994) observe that grain yield was low when there is long period of water deficit. Sangoi and
Almeida (1994) also reported that application of nitrogen fertilizer to maize on soil with high
organic matter content had no effect on the yield and yield components. Hence, when soil
organic carbon is high which indicates high soil fertility, application of nitrogen fertilizer may
not be necessary.
High yielding maize variety favours the efficiency of increased nitrogen fertilization.
Kogbe and Adediran (2003) compared the response of hybrid and open-pollinated maize
varieties to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium application. It was found that hybrid maize
produced higher yields and utilized nitrogen and phosphorus more efficiently than the open
pollinated variety. Improved open-pollinated maize variety responds favourably to high dose of
nitrogen fertilizer (Shafsak et al., 1995; Okeleye and Alofe, 1995). Paradkar and Sharma (1993)
recorded least grain yield of open-pollinated at 0kg N/ha while the highest was at 160kg N/ha.

2.3

EFFECT OF SPACING ON YIELD AND GROWTH OF MAIZE


Iken and Anusa (2004) recommended an optimum plant population of 53,333 plants/ha

for maximum yield of maize. Their report indicated that this is obtainable using a spacing of
75cm x 25cm at 1 plant per stand or 75cm x 50cm at 2 plants per stand. Azam et al., (2007)
reported that spacing of 75cm x 35cm resulted in increased grain yield of maize while 75cm x
15cm gave maximum cob weight. Enujeke (2013) reported that, spacing of 75 cm x 35 cm can be
used to enhance increased stem girth and leaf area whose photosynthetic activities could

positively influence maize yield. Another report by Allessi and Power (2004) revealed that maize
cob weight decreased with increased plant population.
Plant density is one of the most important cultural practices determining grain yield, as
well as other important agronomic attributes of maize. Stand density affects plant architecture,
alters growth and developmental patterns and influences carbohydrate production and partition
(Casal, 1985). Maize is more sensitive to variations in plant density than other members of the
grass family (Almeida & Sangoi, 1996). At low densities, many modern maize hybrids dont
tiller effectively and quite often produce only one ear per plant. Therefore, maize does not share
the trait of most tillering grasses of compensating for low leaf area and small number of
reproductive units by branching (Gardner et al., 1985). On the other hand, the use of high
populations heightens interplant competition for light, water and nutrients. This may be
detrimental to final yield because it stimulates apical dominance, induces barrenness, and
ultimately decreases the number of ears produced per plant and kernels set per ear (Sangoi &
Salvador, 1998a). Population for maize maximum economic grain yield varies from 30,000 to
over 90,000plants ha-1, depending on water availability, soil fertility, maturity rating, planting
date and row spacing. When the number of individuals per area is increased beyond the optimum
plant density, there is a series of consequences that are detrimental to ear ontogeny and result in
barrenness. For each production system, there is a population that maximizes the utilization of
available resources, allowing the expression of maximum attainable grain yield on that
environment (Sangoi, 2000).
There is no single recommendation for all conditions because optimum density varies
depending on nearly all environmental factors as well as on controlled factors, such as soil
fertility, hybrid selection, planting date and planting pattern, among others (Sangoi, 2000).

2.4

EFFECT OF VARIETAL DIFFERENCES ON MAIZE GROWTH AND YIELD


Tolera, et al, (1999) suggested that breeders should select maize varieties that combine

high

grain

yield

and

desirable stover characteristics because of large differences that

exist between cultivars. Odeleye and Odeleye (2001) reported that maize varieties differ in their
growth characters, yield and its components, and therefore suggested that breeders
select

most

must

promising combiners in their breeding programmes.

Research work by IITA (2001) and Iken et al. (2001) indicated that openpollinated maize varieties are more appropriate to peasant farmers since the seeds
obtained from the harvest can be used as planting materials for subsequent
cropping season. Worku and Zelleke (2007) reported that open-pollinated maize
varieties yield higher than local varieties because they are more effective in
transferring assimilates to their ear sink. Tolera et al. (1999) suggested that
breeders should select maize varieties that combine high grain yield and desirable
stover characteristics because of large differences that exist between cultivars.
Odeleye and Odeleye (2001) reported that maize varieties differ in their growth
characters, yield and its components, and therefore suggested that breeders must
put these factors into consideration during their breeding programs.

CHAPTER THREE
MATERIALS AND METHODS

3.1

EXPERIMENTAL SITE
The experimental to evaluate effects of fertilizer rates and intra-row spacing on maize

varieties was conducted during rainy season of 2014 at the Institute Agricultural Research (I. A.
R.) farm in Northern Guinea Savannah Zone of Nigeria (11011N, 07038E and 686m above sea
level).
Meteorological Data of the area throughout the period of the experiment was collected
from I. A. R. Samaru (Appendix 1).
Random samples of soil was taken at depth of 1-15 and 15-30cm with an auger from the
experimental site before land preparation and analyzed for physico-chemical properties (Table
1).

3.2

TREATMENTS AND EXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS

The treatments consisted of two extra early varieties of maize (SAMMAZ 28 and
SAMMAZ 29), two fertilizer rates (0:0:0 and 120:60:60 kg NPK/ha) and three intra-row spacing
(20, 30 and 40 cm).
The trial was laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) and replicated
three times. Gross plot size was 18m2 and consisted of 6 ridges (4.5m) of 4m length; while the
net plot consist of 4 ridges (3m) of 3m length with an area of 9m2.

3.3

VARIETIES
The varieties used for this trial were open pollinated extra-early maize (SAMMAZ 28

and SAMMAZ 29). They mature within 80-85 days, hence suitable for low rainfall areas of the
northern Guinea savannah and Sudan savannah with potential yield of 4.0 ton/ha. Maturity
period is extra-early within 80-85 days. Both the two varieties are resistant to drought, pest and
diseases and also tolerant to Striga hermonthica and maize streak virus. The varieties were
sourced from the seed production unit of I. A. R. Samaru, Zaria. Sammaz 28 seed is yellow while
Sammaz 29 is white. Both Sammaz 28 and 29 can be grown in southern and northern Guinea
savannah and Sudan savannah ecology with potential of 4.0 ton/ha.

3.4

CULTURAL PRACTICES

3.4.1

Land Preparation

The experimental site was double harrowed and ridged 75cm apart. Inter row spacing of 20cm
and 30cm plots were demarcated which consisted of 6 ridges (4.5m) and 4m length giving an
1

area of 18m2. Plots were divided into 3 replications and each replication consisted of twelve (12)
plots.
3.4.2

Sowing

Seeds were dressed before planting using Apron Star at the rate of 10g per 3kg of maize seeds.
The seeds were sown manually at the rate of two seeds per hole at varied intra row spacings as
specified in the treatment combination. The plants were thinned down to one plant per stand at
two weeks after sowing (2WAS).
3.4.3

Fertilizer Application

Fertilizer was applied in two doses at 3 and 6 weeks after sowing. Two rates were used for the
experiment, one was the recommended rate for open pollinated maize (120:60:60 kg NPK/ha)
while the other rate was no fertilizer (0:0:0 NPK kg/ha).
NPK 15:15:15 was used. Where the whole of P and K and half of N were applied at 3 WAS by
side dressing, by putting the fertilizer in a hole at about 10cm away from the base of the plant
and covered with soil. Urea was used for the second dose to top dress at 6 WAS.
3.4.4

Weeding

Gramazone and Atrazine were applied at the rate of 4.0 ton/ha immediately after sowing
followed by manual weeding at 3 and 6 WAS. Remoulding was also done at the time of second
dose of nitrogen application to cover the fertilizer and give strength to the plants to avoid
lodging.
3.4.5

Harvesting

Harvesting was done manually when cobs were physiologically matured. The cobs were
removed from the stalks, dehusked and sundried.

3.5

DATA COLLECTION

3.5.1

Stand Count

Number of plants per plot were counted at 2 WAS and at harvest.


3.5.2

Plant Height

Plant height of the tagged plants in each plot using meter rule from ground level to the tip of the
top most leaves. The measurement was taken at 4 and 12 WAS and the mean for the five plants
was recorded per plot.
3.5.3

Number of Leaves per plant

This was determined by counting the leaves on each of the five tagged plants per plot. Mean was
recorded for each plot by dividing the total number of leaves by the number of tagged plants per
plants.
3.5.4

Leaf Area Index

Leaf Area Index was determined from the five tagged plants. The length and breadth from the
widest portion of functional leaves was measured. The product of length and breadth was then
multiplied by a factor 0.75 (Lazarou, 1965) from which area of functional leaves of the sampled
plants was obtained, added and divided by land area.

L. A. = L*W*0.75
Where;
L= length of leaf
W= maximum width of leaf
0.75= crop factor
The Leaf Area Index was then calculated using the formula developed by Watson (1958);
LA
P

LAI =

Where;
LA= leaf area,
P= ground area
3.5.5

Total Dry Matter of Plants

Total dry matter was determined by cutting the sampled plants at ground level, oven dried to
constant weight and the mean weight was collected and recorded.
3.5.6

Crop Growth Rate

This was determined at 4, 8 and 12 WAS. The mean rate was calculated and later recorded using
the formula below (Watson, 1952).

CGR =

( W 2W 1 )
A
t 2t 1

= g/m2/wk
1

Where;
W1= dry matter weight at the first sampling period
W2= dry matter weight at the second sampling period
T1= time at which W1 was taken
T2= time at which W2 was taken
3.5.7

Relative Growth Rate

This was determined at 4, 8 and 12 WAS using the formula below (Radford, 1967);
log e W 2 log e W 1
t 2 t 1

RGR =

= g/g/wk, where;

LogW2 and logW1 refer to total dry matter of plant at t2 and t1 respectively.
3.5.8

Net Assimilation Rate

Net Assimilation Rate was determined at 4, 8 and 12 WAS using the formula below (Watson,
1958).
W 2 W 2
t 2t 1

log e A2log e A1
A2 A 1

= gcm-2wk-1 where;

A2 = leaf area at the second sampling period


A1 = leaf area at the first sampling period
W2 = dry matter weight at the second sampling period
1

W1 = dry matter weight at the first sampling period


3.5.9

Number of Days to 50% Silking

This was determined by counting the number of days from sowing to the date when 50% of the
plants in each plot have silked.
3.5.10 Number of Days to 50% Tasselling
This was determined by counting the number of days from sowing to the date when 50% of the
plants in each plot have tasselled.
3.5.11 Cob Weight Per Plant
Mature cobs from the five (5) tagged plants were weighed and the means were calculated and
recorded as cob weight per plant.

3.5.12 Cob Length per Plant


The lengths of five cobs per plot were using meter rule and average was computed and recorded.
3.5.13 Cob Diameter per Plot
The diameters of five cobs were measured at the middle of the cob using a Vernier Calipper.
Average was determined and recorded for each plot.
3.5.14 Number of Rows per Cob
The number of rows per cob for each of the five cobs was gotten and average computed and
recorded.
1

3.5.15 100 Grain Weight


One hundred (100) grains were randomly selected from each net plot and weighed. The value
was then recorded for each plot in grams.
3.5.16 Grain Weight per Plot
The harvested cobs from each net plot were threshed, cleaned and grains weighed and expressed
in kg per plot.
3.5.17 Grain Yield (kg) per Hectare
Grain weighed per plot obtained for each plot was later extrapolated to per hectare basis (kg/ha).
3.5.18 Threshing Percentage
This was obtained by dividing the grain weight per plot and then multiplied by hundred.

Threshing percentage =

3.6

Grain yield (kg)


Weight of cob harvested ( kg)

* 100

DATA ANALYSIS

The data collected were subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) as described by Snedelor
and Cochran (1967). Means were separated using Duncans Multiple Range Test (DMRT)
(Duncan, 1955). Correlation coefficient between yield, growth, and yield components were
determined using simple correlation coefficient analysis as described by Little and Hills (1978).

CHAPTER FOUR
PRESENTATION OF RESULTS

CHAPTER FIVE
DISCUSSION

5.1

Effect of Varietal Differences


Varietal Differences significantly influenced plant height, total dry matter and 100-grain

weight. This could be attributed to the fact that the two varieties used for this study differ in their
morphological structure as affected by genotypic variation. Sammaz 29 has higher number of
leaves and alternating leaves arrangement that allows interception of higher solar energy. Hence,
higher photosynthesis that leads to production of higher assimilates. The higher assimilates
produced were subsequently translocated to the various part of the plant for both growth and
yield of the plants including rapid growth rates, tallness or shortness of species. This is similar to
the findings of Majambu et al., (1996) and Ibrahim et al, (2000) that attributed the differences in
growth indices of crops to genetic constitution.

This observation also corroborates with the

findings of Sajjan et al., (2002) who reported that growth characters of crops varied because of
differences in their genetic make-up.
5.2

Effect of Intra Row Spacing


1

Intra row spacing differences significantly influenced 50% tasselling and 100 grain
weight. The low density had greater canopy light interception than the high density. The greater
closeness encourages greater etiolation which resulted in taller plants. The wider spacing enjoyed
a temporal difference which helped in reducing competition for the growth factor such as light.
Most of the yield response of maize to reduction in row spacing was related to improvements in
radiation interception at the critical flowering stage (Bullock et al., 1988; Andrade et al.,
2002).Maize is an agronomic grass species that is most sensitive to variations in plant density,
such that for each production system, there is a population that maximises the utilisation of
available resources, allowing the expression of maximum attainable yield in that environment
(Sangoi, 2000). Maize yield is known to increase with increased plant population until the
increase in yield attributable to the addition of plants is less than the decline in mean yield per
plant due to increased inter-plant competition (Tollenaar and Wu, 1999; Mashingaidze, 2004).
This observation is in line with that of Rowland (1993) who found that narrow spacing in
maize encourages plant growth. Maize plants spaced narrowly grew taller than other plants
possibly because of increased competition for space, sunlight and available nutrients. This is
similar to the findings of Teasdale (1995), Enujeke (2013), Futuless, Kwaga and Aberakwa
(2010), Widdicombe and Thelen (2002), and Dalley et al. (2006) who attributed the increased
growth rates and earlier canopy closure of narrow row spaced crops to quest for increased light
interception as well as increased availability of soil moisture. It is also consistent with the reports
of Al-Rudha and Al-Youmis (1998) that maize sown at 15cm had maximum plant height
compared with their counterparts sown at wider intra-row spacing.

5.3

Effect of Fertilizer Rates


Fertilizer rates significantly influenced plant height, number of leaves, leaf area index,

total dry matter, 50% tasselling, 50% silking, cob weight, 100 grain weight, grain weight/plot,
cob yield/ha, and grain yield/ha. This could have arisen from soil fertility differences between
treated and non-treated fields. The findings also confirmed the results reported by Chaudhary et
al. (1998); Sharma and Gupta (1998) and Younas et al. (2002).

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