Accurate leaf area simulation is critical for the performance of crop growth models. Area of fully expanded individual leaves of maize hybrids released before 1995 (defined as old hybrids) has been simulated using a bell-shaped function (BSF) and the relationship between its parameters and total leaf number (TLNO). However, modern high-yielding maize hybrids show different canopy architectures. The function parameters calibrated for old hybrids will not accurately represent modern hybrids. In this study, we evaluated these functions using a dataset including old and modern hybrids that have been widely planted in China in recent years. Maximum individual leaf area (Y0) and corresponding leaf position (X0) were not predicted well by TLNO (R2 = 0.56 and R2 = 0.70) for modern hybrids. Using recalibrated shape parameters a and b with values of Y0 and X0 for modern hybrids, the BSF accurately predicted individual leaf area (R2 = 0.95–0.99) and total leaf area of modern hybrids (R2 = 0.98). The results show that the BSF is still a robust way to predict the fully expanded leaf area of maize when parameters a and b are modified and Y0 and X0 are fitted. Breeding programs have led to increases in TLNO of maize but have not altered Y0 and X0, reducing the correlation between Y0, X0, and TLNO. For modern hybrids, the values of Y0 and X0 are hybrid-specific. Modern hybrids tend to have less-negative values of parameter a and more-positive values of parameter b in the leaf profile. Growth conditions, such as plant density and environmental conditions, also affect the fully expanded leaf area but were not considered in the original published equations. Thus, further research is needed to accurately estimate values of Y0 and X0 of individual modern hybrids to improve simulation of maize leaf area in crop growth models.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China ( 973-2015CB150400 ) and by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture ( ALA014-1-16016 ), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hatch project under ALA014-1-16016.
- Environmental conditions
- Leaf area
- Leaf number
- Plant density