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Optimized plant population for maize production in a semi-coral environment in Eastern Pemba, Tanzania

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Food Security and Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 159 Zanzibar
  • 2Department of Crop Science and Horticulture, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3005 Chuo Kikuu, Morogoro, Tanzania

Res. J. Agriculture & Forestry Sci., Volume 5, Issue (3), Pages 5-12, March,8 (2017)


Crop yields are closely related and dependent, within the prevailing environment, on plant population in the field. An experiment was conducted in Eastern Pemba to test performance of four varieties of maize under varying plant densities in a semi-coral coast. Densities of 44,444; 53,333 and 66,666 plants/ha corresponding respectively to intra-row spacings of 30, 25 and 20 cm in 75 cm wide rows were used. Average plant height and harvest index increased significantly (P < 0.05) as plant population ha-1 increased from 44,444 to 53,33; thereafter plant height did not increase significantly while harvest index decreased significantly. Dry matter yield increased continuously and significantly as population increased from 44,444 to 66,666. Grain yield, however, increased only with population increase to 53,333 (significantly) thereafter it declined though insignificantly (P < 0.05). Highest average yield of grains was about 4.3 tons/ha at 53,333 plants/ha while lowest was 3.2 t/ha at 44,444. Varieties behaved similarly with regard to grain yield, dry matter yield and cob length as population changed from 44,444 to 66,666 plants/ha. With regard to grain weight per cob, however, for example while varieties Staha and JKU the weight decreased as population increased from 53,333 to 66,666 plants/ha; with variety TMV-1 the weight increased while with variety Situka it leveled-off. Whatever was the variety, this study results show that the maize crop grain yield was optimized at or close to the intermediate plant population of 53,333 ha-1.


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