Simulating kernel production influences maize model accuracy

Sep 21, 2007

Recently, researchers at Iowa State University discovered a way to increase the accuracy of a popular crop model. By zeroing in on early stages leading up to kernel formation, scientists believe they can help improve yield predictions across a variety of environmental conditions. The team of scientists reported their findings in the September-October issue of Crop Science.

The Crop Environment Resource Synthesis (CERES)- Maize model is used worldwide to predict maize yield each growing season. CERES-Maize predictions are based upon simulations of plant growth and the amount of carbon and nitrogen maize plants accumulate each day. While this approach provides growers with ballpark estimates of maize production, the accuracy decreases when growing conditions affect kernel formation more than plant growth.

Unlike most crop plants, maize has separate male and female flowers. Pollen from male flowers must travel to and fertilize female flowers located on ear. Each successful fertilization of a female flower leads to the production of a kernel.

“Pollination success depends on the amount of viable pollen produced, the presence of the pollen receptive part of the female flower, and close synchrony in male and female flower development,” says Mark Westgate, Iowa State University professor of agronomy. “CERES-Maize does not consider these critical aspects of the pollination process.”

To overcome the limitations of CERES-Maize, Westgate and his colleagues developed algorithms for a Flowering Model to simulate maize flowering dynamics. Once they were convinced the Flowering Model was properly imitating maize flowering patterns, they coupled it to CERES-Maize. The Modified version of CERES-Maize then was calibrated against two years of field data involving three hybrids, eight population densities, and seven nitrogen levels. The Modified version of CERES-Maize generated more accurate predictions of maize yield across a wide range of growing conditions.

“There are many situations in which kernel number is not limited by the ability of the plant to supply carbon and nitrogen to the ear,” Westgate said. “By taking into account other factors influencing kernel number, CERES-maize is much more sensitive to biological factors that can affect yield.”

Source: American Society of Agronomy

Explore further: New anthology offers comprehensive insight into the life and works of Margaret Thatcher

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bear cub found dead in Spanish Pyrenees

45 minutes ago

A brown bear cub that was part of an effort to reintroduce the species to the Pyrenees mountains has been found dead on the Spanish side of the mountain range, local officials said Monday.

Boy moms more social in chimpanzees

45 minutes ago

Nearly four decades of observations of Tanzanian chimpanzees has revealed that the mothers of sons are about 25 percent more social than the mothers of daughters. Boy moms were found to spend about two hours ...

Biology trumps chemistry in open ocean

59 minutes ago

Single-cell phytoplankton in the ocean are responsible for roughly half of global oxygen production, despite vast tracts of the open ocean that are devoid of life-sustaining nutrients. While phytoplankton's ...

US northeast braces for flooding after record snow

23 hours ago

Weather forecasters and emergency officials warned Sunday that melting snow would lead to heavy flooding in parts of the US northeast, with hundreds of thousands of people told to brace for fast-rising waters.

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

Nov 25, 2014

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

Nov 21, 2014

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.