The study was carried out at the research farm of the University of Benin to investigate the effect of different population levels on the grain
yield and yield responses of extra-early and early maturing maize varieties. The trial was laid out in a split-plot factorial arrangement in a
randomized complete block design with three replicates. Plant population: 53,333(75cmx50cm), 66,667(50cmx60cm),
80,000(50cmx50cm), 100,000 (50cmx40cm), and 133,333(50cmx30cm) and varieties: Extra-early (2004 TZEE-W STR, and 2000 SYN EE-W
STR ) and Early (2004 TZEE-W POP DT STR C4, and EVDT-W 2008 STR), were used. The characters evaluated include the plant and ear height,
days to 50% tasselling and silking, days to 95% maturity, the total dry matter plant-1, 1000 seed weight, and the grain yield ha-1. The result
obtained showed that these characters were significantly influenced by plant population and maize variety. The research shoPwed that
133,333 plants-1 and 100,000 plants were best for maize production because of their relatively large grain yield; and the varieties EVDTW2008STR and 2004TZEE-WSTR, which also produced high grain yield can also be useful.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most important cereal crop grown principally around the world. Maize grain is used for both human
consumption and animal feed. It has great utility in agro industry as a source of raw materials for many products. The crop has much higher
grain protein content than our staple food like rice (Oyekan et al. 1989). Based on area and production, maize is the third most important
cereal crop after wheat and rice in the world.
The yield of maize in Nigeria is very low as compared to other maize producing countries (Nasir 2002). One of the Post important
responsible factors is the non-application of optimal plant population and the fact that maize hybrids differ in their response to plant
density (Xue et al. 2002). As maize do not have tillering capacity to adjust to variation in plant stand, optimal plant population for grain
production is very important. Agronomic practices such as plant population is known to effect crop environment, which influence yield and
yield components. Optimum population levels should be maintained to exploit maximum natural resources, such as nutrient, sunlight, soil
moisture and to ensure satisfactory yield (Allard 2000). When plant density is high, it encourages inter plant competition for resources; then
crop net photosynthesis will be affected due to less light penetration in the crop canopy as well as increase in competition for available
nutrient which will affect grain yield(Sharrath and McWilliams, 2005). On the other hand if plant population is lower than optimum plant
population, then per hectare production will be low and weeds will be more (Khan. 1972).
Maize is a crop that has wide adaptation to varied environments. Extra-early and early maturing varieties of maize are now available to
expand production to marginal areas of production, particularly areas with low rainfall and sparse distribution. The early and extra early
varieties can also be grown effectively in high rainfall areas as early and late season crop, or can go for a third cycle in one year.
Extra-early and early maturing maize varieties are usually smaller than the late and medium maturing varieties and also yield less than the
former. Adjusting the plant population to higher rate than the recommended plant population for late and medium varieties and will
improve grain yield of early and extra-early varieties. The objective of this study is therefore to determine the optimum spatial
arrangement and plant population that will give the best agronomic response and performance of early and extra-early maturing varieties
in the humid tropics environment.
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