Irrigation-Yield Production Functions and Irrigation Water Use Effciency Response of Drought-Tolerant and Non-Drought-Tolerant Maize Hybrids under Different Irrigation Levels, Population Densities, and Environments
Date of this Version
Sustainability 2020, 12, 358
Irrigation-yield production functions (IYPFs), irrigation water use effciency (IWUE), and grain production per unit of applied irrigation of non-drought-tolerant (NDT) and drought-tolerant (DT) maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids were quantified in four locations with different climates in Nebraska [Concord (sub-humid), Clay Center (transition zone between sub-humid and semi-arid); North Platte (semi-arid); and, Scottsbluff (semi-arid)] during three growing seasons (2010, 2011, and 2012) at three irrigation levels (fully-irrigated treatment (FIT), early cut-off (ECOT), and rainfed (RFT)) under two plant population densities (PPDs) (low-PPD; 59,300 plants ha-1; and, high-PPD, 84,000 plants ha-1). Overall, DT hybrids’ performance was superior to NDT hybrid at RFT, ECT, and FIT conditions, as confirmed by the yield response, IYPF and IWUE when all locations, years, and PPDs were averaged. The yield response to water was greater with the high-PPD than the low-PPD in most cases. The magnitude of the highest yields for DT hybrids ranged from 7.3 (low-PPD) to 8.5% (high-PPD) under RFT, 3.7 (low-PPD) to 9.6% (high-PPD) under ECOT, and 3.9% (high-PPD) under FIT higher than NDT hybrid. Relatively, DT hybrids can resist drought-stress conditions longer than NDT hybrid with fewer penalties in yield reduction and maintain comparable or even higher yield production at non-stress-water conditions.