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NIGERIAN JO U R N A L OF SCIENCE VOL. 14. NOS.

1 & 2 1980

EFFECTS OF PLANT POPULATION ON POD AND KERNEL


CHARACTERISTICS OF GROUNDNUT
(Arachis hypogaea L .) VARIETIES IN NIGERIA

by

J.Y. YAYOCK
Institute for Agricultural Research,
Ahmadu Bello University,
P.M.B. 1044,
Zaria, Nigeria.
*

ABSTRACT

Investigation were carried out for two years at Kano and for one year
each at Samaru and Mokwa to determine the effect of population density
on some characters of pods and kernels of five groundnut varieties. Pods
were better and more uniformly filled at high than at low plant popula­
tions. Average weight of individual pods and kernels and shelling percen­
tage were greater at high than at low plant population. Judged solely on
account of pod and kernel size, F439.2 and F439.4 were the most desira­
ble varieties. Changes in oil and crude protein content of kernels as popu­
lation density was increased were not consistent and varied rather widely
with location and season.

INTRODUCTION

The major objective of the groundnut (Arachis hypogaeal,.) improvement


programme in Nigeria is the attainment of high yield of pod and oil content
of kernels. One method of increasing groundnut yield is by cropping at
high population density (McEwen, 1961; Dhery, 1969; Mercer-Quarshie,
1972 and Yayock, 1979a). High plant population is known to affect the
behaviour of individual plants in terms of vegetative and reproductive
growth and development (Bunting, 1956; Enyi, 1977 and Yayock, 1979b),
but little has been published on the qualitative variations o f individual
Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

pods and kernels at varying high plant population. A study was carried out
in an attempt to identify desirable attributes which could lend themselves
to agronomic manipulation aimed at achieving high yield and improving
quality. This paper reports the influence of plant population on pod and
kernel characters of groundnuts.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Groundnuts (varieties Samara 61, Spanish 205 and F439.4) were grown at
Kano (11° 59'N , 08° 34'E ) in 1974 and 1976. Also in 1976, Spanish 205
and two other varieties (M K 374 and F439.2) were grown at Samara (11°
11 'N, 07° 38'E) and Mokwa (09° 18'N, 05° 04'E). All three sites are loca­
ted in different ecological zones of the Savanna region-Mokwa in the
Southern Guinea, Samara in the Northern Guinea and Kano in the Sudan
Savanna (Keay, 1959). The soils belong to the ferruginous tropical group
described b yD 'H oore (1964).
The groundnuts investigated fall into the two bread types (alternately
and sequentially-branched) described by Gibbons et al. (1972). The branch­
ing characteristics of all five varieties have been described by Yayock
(1979c).
Seeds were sown on the flat in 0.6m rows. Spacing on the row were
varied to give 43,000, 129,000 and 215,000 plants/ha in 1974; in 1976
populations investigated were 43,000, 100,000, 157,000, 214,000 and
271,000 plants/ha. These populations were combined with the groundnut
varieties in a factorial experiment. Treatments were arranged in rando­
mised complete blocks and replicated four times in 1974 and three times in
1976. Leaf-spot diseases were controlled by spraying weekly with Benomyl
(benlate) at 0.28 kg/ha in 400 liters of water, starting from flowering.
Single superphosphate at kg/ha of P £ 0 5 and muriate of potash at 17
kg/ha of K 2 0 were disked into the seedbed before planting. Trials were
kept free of weeds by hand-weeding as often as was considered necessary.
Dates of sowing and harvesting were as tabulated under:

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J. Y. Yayock

S ite Y ear D a te o f D a te o f H arvesting


so w in g

K ano 1974 3 J u ly 19 O c t. fo r S p an ish 2 0 5 ; 6 N ov. fo r


o th e r v arieties
K ano 1976 21 J u n e 11 O c t. fo r S p an ish 2 0 5 ; 2 5 O ct. fo r
o th e r varieties
M okw a 1976 5 M ay 1 O c t. fo r S p an ish 2 0 5 ; 15 S ep t, fo r
o th e r v arieties
S am aru 1976 9 Ju n e 5 O ct. fo r S p an ish 2 0 5 ; 19 O ct. fo r
o th e r v arieties.

Gross plots were 7.2m wide (12 rows) by 7.6m long. The following pod
and kernel characteristics were measured based on sub-samples randomly
drawn from pods harvested from the centre four rows, 6.6m long.
(a) Proportion of 1 - cavity and 2 - cavity pods; based on 18,000 pods
per sample for each variety.
(b) Number o f kernels contained in a pod.
(c) Pod shelling percentage.
(d) Mean weight per pod; computed from the weight of 500 pods.
(e) Mean weight per kernel; computed from the weight of 100 kernels.
(f) Oil content of kernels; using the Newport Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
Quantity Analyzer as described by Conway and Earle (1963).
(g) Crude protein content of kernels; N content of kernels was determined
by the standard Micro-Kjeldahl procedure and the protein content
obtained by multiplying % N x 5.46 (Jones, 1931; Anon., 1975 and
Coffelt etal., 1975).

RESULTS
Number o f compartments per pod
The number o f compartments (cavities) per pod, representing the poten­
tial number of kernels that could be borne by the pod, was not significantly
influenced by population density (Table 1). The bulk of pods had two
cavities and those with a single cavity made up only 12, 14 and 16% of

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Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

total pod sample in Samaru 61, Spanish 205 and F439.4, respectively.
This was further confirmed by the fact that the number of kernels actually
contained per pod averaged 1.77 and, except in F439.4, was little influenced
by plant population.

Table 1. Mean effect of population density on various characters of


groundnut pods related to varieties at Kano, 1974.

Variety 1-Cavity Pods Kernels/Pod Weight/Pod


Plants/ha (%) (No) (g)

Samaru 61
43,000 12.6 1.77 1.18
129,000 11.8 1.78 1.24
215,000 11.8 1.76 1.22

Mean 12.1 1.77 1.21

Spanish 205
43,000 13.2 1.79 0.78
129,000 14.8 1.79 0.77
215,000 15.5 1.79 0.80

Mean 14.5 1.79 0.78

F439.4
43,000 16.7 1.70 1.38
129,000 15.6 1.74 1.37
215,000 16.8 1.76 1.46

Mean 16.4 1.74 1.40

+ SE Var. or Pop.
Means 0.6 0.02 0.01
+ SE Var. x Pop. Mean 1.0 0.03 0.02

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J. Y. Yayock

Average pod weight


At Kano, pods of F439.4 were bigger than those of Samara 61 (Tables 1
and 2). At both Samara and Mokwa, pods of M K 374 and F439.2 were
similar in size. Spanish 205 had the smallest individual pods. For the same
varieties and during the same season heavier pods were produced at Mokwa
than at Samara. Similarly, heavier pods were produced in 1974 than 1976
at Kano. At both Kano and Mokwa pods of F439.4 and F439.2 increased
slightly as plant populations were increased.

Average kernel weight


At Kano, F439.4 produced the heaviest kernels and Spanish 205 lightest
(Figs. 1 and 2). Also at Samaru and Mokwa M K 374 produced the largest
average kernel and Spanish 205 the smallest. Heavier kernels were pro­
duced at Mokwa than at Samara. At Kano, individual kernels were heavier
in 1974 than in 1976.
The weight of individual kernels was greater as population density was
increased. The overall increase in kernel weight resulting from cropping
at densities higher than 43,000 plants/ha was greatest in F439.4 and closely
followed by Samara 61 at Knao; at Samara amd Mokwa the greatest
increase was from M K 374 and F439.2, respectively. In Spanish 205 and
particularly in 1976, the increase in kernel weight due to population density
was generally inconsistent and negligible. This probably resulted from the
adverse effects of the late rains in October.
Kernels shelled from pods with two compartments were smaller than
those from single compartments (compare 0.345, 0.445 and 0.511g with
0.378, 0.446 and 0.524g per kernel in 1974 for Spanish 205, Smara 61 and
F439.4, respectively), but differences were not singnificant.

Shelling percentage
This is the proportion (by weight) of kernels to pods and provides an
assessment of pod quality. Shelling percentage was highest in Spanish
205 at any population density at Kano (Fig. 2) In 1974 pods of F439.4
shelled lower than those of Samaru 61; but in 1976 shelling percentage was
higher in F439.4 at populations above 100,000 plants/ha.
While at Samara shelling percentage was lower in Spanish 205 than in
F439.2, at Mokwa the reverse was the case (Fig. 2). The higher the plant
population the higher was the shelling percentage, the relationshipt being
linear except for Samara 61 and F439.4 in 1976. Probably because of the
late October rains, increase in shelling percentage with plant population
was inconsistent and negligible in respect of Spanish 205 at Samara.

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Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

Table 2. Mean effect of population density on the average pod weight of


some groundnut varieties at three locations in 1976

Variety* Locations
Plants/ha Kano Samaru Mokwa

Samaru 61/MK 374


43,000 0.66 0.95 1.18
100,000 0.69 1.02 1.10
157,000 0.73 1.00 1.18
214,000 0.85 0.94 0.97
271,000 0.74 1.00 1.12

Mean 0.73 0.98 1.11

Spanish 205
43,000 0.65 0.70 0.91
100,000 0.55 0.53 0.71
157,000 0.56 0.56 0.78
214,000 0.51 0.64 0.81
271,000 0.57 0.60 0.70

Mean 0.56 0.60 0.79

F439.4/F439.2
43,000 0.69 0.96 1.04
100,000 0.86 0.94 1.01
157,000 0.83 1.02 1.13
214,000 0.89 0.93 1.28
271,000 0.92 0.92 1.14

Mean 0.83 0.95 1.12

+ SE Var. or Pop.
Mean 0.01 0.01 0.01
+ SE Var. x Pop Mean 0.02 0.02 0.02

* Samaru 61, Spanish 205 and F439.4 at Kano; MK 374, Spanish 205 and
F439.2 at Samaru and Mokwa.
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J. Y. Yayock

Fig. 1. Mature and field-dry pods and kernels of (A) FU39.2, (B) F439.4,
(C) Spanish 205, (D) Samara 61 and (E) M K 374.

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Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

61 at Kano, M K 374 a t S a m a ru Z Mokwa


Kano. 1974

(% ) a S D iu a o jx i £ u / / / a < / S - 4 -------------- ( 6 ) ia u ja ^ /m B /a M -4 -

?. 2. Fitted curves of (A-D) shelling percentage and (E-H) Kernel weight


of five groundnut varieties related to population density.

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/ . Y. Yayock

Oil content o f kernels


On the average, oil content of both Spanish 205 and F439.4 was the
same at Kano in 1974; however, in 1976 Spanish 205 contained significantly
more oil (Fig. 3). During both years kernels of Samara 61 contained the
lowest percentage o f oil. At Samara, Spanish 205 contained significantly
less oil than the other two varieties. Varieties did not differ significantly
in oil content at Mokwa.
At Kano in 1974 and, to a lesser extent in 1976, oil content decreased as
plant population increased. In contrast, cropping at high population density
generally increased oil content of kernels at Samara without any consistent
effect at Mokwa.

Crude protein content of kernels

Crude protein content of kernels varied rather widely between seasons


and locations (Fig. 3). For example, while in 1974 at Kano protein content
of kernels was consistently lowest in F439.4 and highest in Spanish 205,
in 1976 values were highest in Samara 61 and lowest in Spanish 205, in
1976 values were highest in Samara 61 and lowest in Spanish 205 but
differences between varieties were not statistically significant. Varieties
grown at Mokwa were not analysed for protein, but at Samara the average
content of kernels was significantly higher in Spanish 205 than in either
F439.2 or M K 374.
While crude protein content of kernels increased as plant population
increased at Kano in 1974, the reverse was the case in 1976 (Fig. 3). At
Samara crude protein content of MK 374 and Spanish 205 decreased with
plant population while that of F439.2 increased in direct proportion to
population density.

DISCUSSION

Except occurrence o f groundnut rosette virus at Kano in 1976, no


disease incidence was observed. Both the total amount and distribution
of rainfall during each growing season were satisfactory for good groundnut
growth. However, in 1976 rains were unusually high and prolonged into
October and November and caused considerable harvesting and/or drying
problems. Falling at a period when groundnuts were mature and some
trials had been lifted, the late rains generally caused a lowering of pod
quality. Because Spanish 205 lacks a period of dormancy, a good number of
kernels, presumably those which were better formed and more mature,

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Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

(1 ,0 0 0 / h a )
P la n t pop ulatio n

Fig. 3. Fitted curves of (A-D) Oil and (E-G) Protein content of kernels
of five groundnut varieties related to population density.

274
/• Y. Yayock

sprouted within the pods. At picking, such germinating pods tended to be


discarded. Pods of other varieties that had been rendered physically
abnormal also tended to be discarded at picking. By the time the rains
ended, varieties, particularly Spanish 205, contained a log of discoloured
pods; kernels were also discoloured and appeared shrivelled. Furthermore,
the unusually low night temperatures recorded during July and August
of the same year at Kano might not only have caused loss of flower and low
podest (Yayock, 1979c), but could also have influenced pod and kernel
characteristics.

Size o f pod and kernel

The increase in individual pod weight, shelling percentage and mean


kernel weight as plant population increased implied better and more
uniform pod fill at high population. This is supported by an earlier report
(Yayock, 1979c) to the effect that under favourable growth conditions flower
and podset in groundnuts, particularly in early-maturing Spanish 205,
occurs earlier and it is less protected at low than at high plant population
such that fewer pods at the latter density have comparatively more time
to develop and fill before the end of rains. At low population density many
more pods are reportedly formed over an extended period such that at
harvest these are at varying stages of maturity with the result that the
average individual pod and kernel is smaller and lighter and pod shelling
percentage lower.
The bigger pods and kernels at Mokwa, compared with those obtained
at Samaru, were explicable not only in terms of protacted flower and pod
formation at the latter site (Yayock, 1979e), but also in terms of the late
rains in October. Because the crop at Mokwa was picked and partially
dried before it was wetted by rains, pod and kernel quality were not as
adversely affected as in Samaru. The lower weight o f individual pods and
kernels as well as the reduced pod shelling percentage at Kano in 1976
compared with 1974 was as a result of rosette disease (Yayock, 1977),
although this could also have been influenced by the unusually low night
temperatures recorded in July and August when pod development was at a
critical stage.

Contents o f crude protein and oil

The oil and crude protein of kernels are within the range reported in the
literature (Nijhawan, 1963; Young and Hammons, 1975 and Coffelt et ai,

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Effects o f Plant Population on Pod and Kernel

1975). In general agreement with the observations by Holley and Hammons


(1968) results obtained in 1974 at Kano suggested an inverse relationship,
more strongly expressed in Spanish 205, between protein and oil contents
of kernels. Subsequent trials did not, however, confirm this. Although
Schenk (1961) reported that oil and crude protein. contents of kernels
were influenced by the stage o f maturity, there appears to be no published
work establishing the relationship between population density on the one
hand and crude protein and oils contents of kernels on the other. While
Holley and Hammons (1968) found that oil content and crude protein of
kernels were negatively correlated with maturity and kernel size, Picket
(1950), Young and Holley (1965) and Coffelt et al. (1975) have shown the
contents of both oil and crude protein of kernels to increase with maturity.
Thus, the apparent discrepancy in the results reported in this paper might
thus be explained in terms of differences in location and season in line with
reports by Holley and Hammons (1968) and Holaday and Pearson (1974).
Differences, in weather conditions between seasons and locations were
probably the most significant factor that influenced oil and crude protein
content of varieties in the present investigations.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The work reported in this paper forms part of an approved programme of


research on Oilseeds Improvement at the Institute for Agricultural Rese­
arch, Ahmadu Bello University. The author is most grateful to the Director
of the Institute for permission to publish the paper.

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