Indiana Crop Adviser Conference
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Pollination Stress & Kernel Set in Corn
Asynchronous floral development and abortion of fertilized ovaries are responsible for most of the yield loss caused by drought during pollination of maize. Because silks remain receptive to pollen up to 7 days after they emerge from the husks, selection for genotypes that exsert silks in advance of pollen shed should be beneficial under dry conditions. Physiological studies have shown the increase in abortion in droughted plants results from a lack of assimilate production coupled with inhibition of carbohydrate metabolism within the female flowers. Examples of modern molecular approaches being used to identify the metabolic factors that might limit the delivery and utilization of sugars by the flowers and newly formed kernels will be discussed. Physiological studies also show that rapid and sustained ovary growth is critical to maximize kernel set. Therefore, agronomic practices that support rapid ovary growth rate at anthesis are essential for maintaining kernel set during drought.
Professor of Crop Production and Physiology Agronomy