Maize hybrid response to sustained moderate drought stress reveals clues for improved management

Samadangla Ao, Michael P. Russelle, Gary W. Feyereisen, Tamás Varga, Jeffrey A. Coulter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Crop water productivity (CWP), irrigation water productivity (IWP), actual seasonal basal crop coefficient (Kab), and actual crop evapotranspiration (ETa) are essential parameters for accurate estimation of crop water requirement to prevent irrigation water waste. These parameters were evaluated by conducting three experiments using a drought-tolerant maize hybrid and a non-drought-tolerant (‘standard’) maize hybrid receiving 50, 100, and 150% of the recommended optimal nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate and grown under well-watered conditions, drought stress from the 14 leaf collar maize phenological stage (V14) to maize physiological maturity (R6), and drought stress from the blister maize phenological stage (R2) to R6. Across hybrids, ETa decreased with increased duration of drought stress. The drought-tolerant hybrid had 7 and 8% greater CWP and IWP, respectively, compared to the standard hybrid when drought stress began at V14. Mid-season Kab was 1.08, 0.89, and 0.73 under well-watered conditions and when drought stress began at R2 and V14, respectively. These results reveal that (i) maize achieved more effective physiological acclimation with earlier exposure to drought stress, (ii) grain yield of the drought-tolerant hybrid was unchanged by earlier, compared to later, onset of drought despite a 10% decrease in ETa, and (iii) two phases of acclimation were identified: Maize Kab declined upon exposure to drought but stabilized as the crop acclimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1374
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, grant 4099-13SP.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Crop coefficient
  • Drought stress
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Maize
  • Water productivity


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