Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version

November 1999


Published in Crop Sci. 39:1622–1630 (1999). Copyright © 1999 by the Crop Science Society of America. Used by permission.


This paper addresses the question of whether there has been an increase in yield potential of maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids released in the north-central United States since the advent of the “Green Revolution” that began in the late 1960s. Because there are few published data about hybrid growth rates and yield-determining plant traits when grown at yield potential levels, we attempt to address this issue indirectly by evaluation of maize breeding efforts, changes in plant traits of commercial hybrids, and by comparison of statewide average yield trends and yield trends in sanctioned yield contests. On the basis of these sources of information and a definition of yield potential as the yield that can be achieved with an adapted hybrid when grown without obvious stress of any kind, we found that there is conflicting evidence to support the hypothesis that maize yield potential has increased. We recommend experimental approaches to quantify and investigate the determinants of maize yield potential in the north-central United States and for use in breeding hybrids with greater yield potential.