Canopy Variation Among Three Sweet Corn Hybrids and Implications for Light Competition

in HortScience
Authors:
Martin M. Williams IIU.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Invasive Weed Management Research, University of Illinois, 1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

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Rick A. BoydstonU.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Vegetable and Forage Crops Research, 24106 N. Bunn Road, Prosser, WA 99350

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Adam S. DavisU.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Invasive Weed Management Research, University of Illinois, 1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

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Research in dent corn has found significant variation in crop/weed competition for light among hybrids. However, little has been published on the extent of variation in sweet corn competitive ability. Field studies were conducted under weed-free conditions to quantify canopy development and light environment among three sweet corn hybrids and to determine associations among canopy characteristics to crop yield. An early-season hybrid (Spirit) and two midseason hybrids (WHT2801 and GH2547) were grown at experimental sites located near Urbana, Ill., and Prosser, Wash., in 2004 and 2005. Maximum leaf area index (LAI) and intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was typically highest for GH2547 and lowest for Spirit. Most differences in vertical LAI among hybrids was observed above 60 and 150 cm in Illinois and Washington, respectively, with WHT2801 and GH2547 having leaf area distributed higher in the canopy than Spirit. Both number and mass of marketable ears were positively correlated with maximum relative growth rate (correlation coefficients 0.60–0.81), leaf area duration (0.68–0.79), total LAI (0.56–0.74) at R1, and intercepted PAR (0.74–0.83) at R1. Differences in canopy properties and interception of solar radiation among Spirit, WHT2801, and GH2547 lead us to hypothesize that variation in weed-suppressive ability exists among hybrids. Future testing of this hypothesis will provide knowledge of interactions specific to sweet corn useful for developing improved weed management systems.

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