Advances in Agricultural Science 04 (2016), 03: 13-34
Yielding and Growth Parameters of Maize (Zea Mays L.) As Affected by Different Foliar and Nitrogen Soil Fertilization
Ahmed Kandil 1, Ahmed Attia 1, Saad EL-Moursy 1 and Mostfa Abd-Elnaby 1
1Agronomy Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Mansoura University, Egypt
Two field experiments were carried out at Toukh El- Aklam, Village, El-Sinbelaween Station, Dakahlia Governorate, during 1989 and 1990 seasons to study the effect of four nitrogen fertilizer levels (0, 30, 60 and 90 kg N/fad), three foliar application time (after 30, 50 and two equal halves at 30 and 50 days from planting (DFP) as well as four foliar treatments namely (foliar x, Irral, Aziplex and Sicotree Zn) on growth, yield and grain quality of maize. Results indicated that the interaction between nitrogen levels, times of spraying and nutrients foliar application was significant, the maximum plant height, ear height, stem diameter, leaf area ear length, ear diameter, number of grain/row, 100-grain weight, shelling percentage, grain yield/plant, grain yield/fad and grain protein percentage. However, the minimum number of days to 50 % tasseling and silking, were recorded under the combination of 90 kg N/fad, and spraying Irral at the rate of 300 g/fad after 50 days from planting. In conclusion, the desirable growth characters of maize can be achieved through nitrogen application at the rate of 90 kg N/fad, spraying foliar nutrients after 50 days from planting and foliar Irral at the rate of 300 g/fad under the environmental conditions of El-Sinbelaween Center, Dakahlia Governorate.
Maize or corn (Zea mays L.) is an important cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world. In Egypt, maize is considered as one of the main cereal crops, comes the third after wheat and rice. Maize is very essential either for the human food or animal feeding and a common ingredient for industrial products. It plays a vital source of daily human food because their flour mixed with wheat flour by 20 % for bread making. Also, maize is used as a feed for livestock whether fresh, silage or grains. Therefore, a great attention should be paid to raise maize productivity by maximizing yield per unit area in order to reduce the gap between its production and consumption. Where, maize is well known for its high demand for nutrients and other production inputs. Thereby, among factors that enhance maize productivity such as nitrogen levels, foliar and soil fertilization as well as the application time.
Nitrogen is the component of protoplasm, proteins, nucleic acids, chlorophyll and plays a vital role both in vegetative and reproductive phase of crop growth. Maize has been recognized as a heavy feeder and uses more of nitrogen than any other nutrient element. Many reports indicated that nitrogen fertilizer has more influence on the growth and yield of maize than any other plant nutrient because it is the nutrient most often deficient in the Egyptian soils. Thus, increasing application of nitrogen fertilizer levels led to significant increases in growth, yield and its attributes and quality characters of maize crop. (Seadh and El-Zehery, 2007; Abd El-Maksoud and Sarhan, 2008; Sharifi and Taghizadeh, 2009; Akmal et al., 2010; Soliman and Gharib, 2011; El-Naggar, Nehal et al., 2012 and Seadh et al. 2013).
Foliar fertilization is a widely used practice to correct nutritional deficiencies in plants caused by improper supply of nutrients to roots. The main benefits of foliar spraying are that it can have up to a 90% efficiency rate of uptake as opposed to 10 % efficiency from soil applications. In addition, foliar fertilization becomes directly available in the plant because they are 100% water-soluble. Singh et al. (2002) reported that fertilizer management plays an important role for obtaining satisfactory yield. In order to increase crop productivity nutrient management may be achieved by the involvement of organic sources, bio-fertilizers and micro-nutrients. Welch (2003) Micronutrient deficiency can greatly disturb plant yield, quality and the health of domestic animals and humans. Malakouti (2008) indicated that by supplying plants with micronutrients, either through soil application, foliar spray, or seed treatment improved yield, quality and macronutrient use efficiency was improved up to 50%. The other great thing is that foliar spraying stimulates the plants to cre-ate exudates in the roots, which excite microbes to work harder, and thus increases nutrient uptake from the soil. In addition, foliar sprays enhance flavors, sweetness, mineral density and yield of crops (Seadh et al. 2013). Badawi et al. (1989) indicated that foliar spraying with ZnSO4 at the rate of 0.30 % significantly increased growth, yield and its components as well as grain quality of maize. Adhikary et al. (2010) recorded that highest grain yield (5.99 t/ha) was recorded with the crop which was supplied with all micronutrients (B, Zn, S, Mn and Mo applied in combination with NPK fertilizers at 120:60 40 kg /ha which produced almost 171 % higher grain yield than those with control plot (2.21 t/ha) and 1.48 t/ha of additional grains over NPK treated crop. Ghaffari et al. (2011) found that the recommended dose of NPK in addition with single spray of Multi-nutrients substationally improved all growth parameters, ear characteristics and also enhanced macronutrients use efficiency up to 11.5% which induced significant increase in grain yield as compared to control and also in the treatment where recommended dose of NPK was applied alone. The quality parameter of maize (oil contents) significantly improved by foliar application of multi-nutrients solution but recommended dose of fertilizer in addition to single spray of Multi-nutrients was economical. Yosefi et al. (2011) indicated that micronutrient foliar application significant effect on plant height, flag leaf length, grain and biological yield, however the effect of micronutrient foliar application on width of flag leaf, diameter of stem, number of rows per ear, number of grain per ear and weight of grain was not significant. Salem and El-Gizawy (2012) indicated that foliar spraying by micronutrients gave the highest values of ears/plant, grains/ear, 100-grain weight and grain yield.
Materials and Methods
Two field experiments were carried out at Toukh El- Aklam, Village, El-Sinbelaween Station, Dakahlia Governorate, during the two successive summer seasons of 1989 and 1990 in order to investigate the effect of some foliar and soil fertilizers on growth and yield of maize (Zea mays L.) and to minimize the pollution by nitrate in water and soil, as well.
The experiments were carried out in split-split plot design with four replications. The studied nitrogen fertilizers levels i.e. (0, 30, 60 and 90 kg N/fad) arranged in the main plots. The levels of nitrogen fertilizer in the form of urea (46 % N) were tried at two half equal doses prior the first and second irrigation respectively.
The sub-plots were assigned three treatment of foliar application time as follows (Spraying after 30 days from planting, Spraying after 50 days from planting and two equal halves at 30 days and 50 days from planting).
The sub-sub plots were occupied four foliar treatments namely (foliar x, Irral, Aziplex and Sicotree Zn) as shown in Table 1.
Each experimental basic unit (sub-sub plot) included five ridges, each of 70 cm width and 3 m length, resulted an area of 10.5 m2 (1/400 fed). The preceding winter crop was wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the first and second seasons. The soil of the experimental site was clay loam in texture with an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.23 dS/m and a pH of 7.85. The experimental field well prepared through two ploughing, adding organic fertilizers, leveling, compaction, ridging and then divided into the experimental units (10.5 m2). Calcium superphosphate (15.5 % P2O5) was applied during soil preparation at the rate of 100 kg/fed. Potassium sulphate (48 % K2O) at the rate of 50 kg/fed was applied with the first dose of nitrogen fertilizer.
Table 1: Percentage chelate elements in some foliar fertilizers.
The Egyptian cultivar pioneer karnak double cross produced by Pioneer Company was used, the grains were sown on 22nd and 24th may and Harvesting were 21st and 24th September in both seasons, respectively. Maize grains were hand sown in hills 25 cm apart at the rate of 2 – 3 grains/hill using dry sowing method (Afir) on one side of the ridge during the second week of May in 2010 and 2011 seasons. The plants were thinned to one plant per hill before the first irrigation. The first irrigation was applied after 21 days from sowing and the following irrigations were applied at 15 days intervals during the growing seasons. The other agricultural practices were kept the same as normally practiced in maize fields according to the recommendations of Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, except for the factors under study.
At harvest time (after 120 DFP) random samples of five guarded plants were taken at random from each sub – plot to determine the following characters: 1- Days from sowing to 50% tasseling and silking. 3- Plant height (cm): the measurement taken from surface of soil till top of plant harvesting. 4- Ear height (cm): was measured from soil surface to the position of plant harvesting. 5- Stem diameter (cm): A vernier caliper was used for measuring the diameter of stem at the soil surface. 6- Leaf area of the ear leaf: it was calculated by the following formula: (Ear leaf length X maximum width of ear leaf X 0.75). 7- Ear length (cm); it was measured as the means of length of five ears. 8. Ear diameter (cm); it was measured by using a varnier caliper as the means of random five ears. 9- Number of kernels/row: it was counted as the means of number of grains in each row of random samples of five ears. 10-100-kernel weight (g); it was taken from clear grains and deter-mined as the means weight of four random samples of 100 grains of each plot and adjusted to 15.5% moisture content. 11- Shelling percentage (%); it was determined by divided the weight of shelled grains of five ears by their weights and multi-plied by 100.12- Grain yield/plant. 13- Grain yield (ardab/fad); it was determined by the weight of grains per kilograms adjusted to 15.5% moisture content of each plot, then converted to ardab per feddan (ardab = 140 kg). 14- Crude protein %: protein determination was carried out by the improved Kieldahl- method of A.O.A.C. (1980), modified by distilling the ammoniation saturated boric solution and titration in standard acid by multiplying the total nitrogen values in corn flour by 6.25.
All obtained data were statistically analyzed according to the tech-nique of analysis of variance (ANOVA) for the split-split plot design to each experiment as pub-lished by Gomez and Gomez (1984) by using “MSTAT-C” computer software package. New Least Significant of Difference (NLSD) method was used to test the differences between treatment means at 5% level of probability as described by Waller and Duncan (1969).
Results and Discussion
1- Effect of nitrogen fertilizer levels
The obtained data in Tables 2 and 3 revealed that the effect of nitrogen fertilizer levels on growth characters, yield and its components as well as grain quality i.e. days from sowing to 50% tasseling and silking, plant height (cm), ear height (cm), stem diameter (cm), leaf area of the ear leaf, ear length (cm), ear diameter (cm), no. of kernels/row, 100-kernel weight (g), shelling (%), grain yield/plant (g), grain yield/fad, crude protein (%). It can be stated that nitrogen application of 90 kg N/fad significantly increased plant height (255 and 252 cm), ear height (124 and 125 cm), stem diameter (2.5 and 2.6 cm), leaf ear area (698.6 and 654 cm2), ear length (20.5 and 20.8 cm), ear diameter (4.7 and 4.9), number of kernels/row (41 and 42), 100-kernel weight (41.7 and 42.6 g), shelling percentage (79.4 and 79.5 %), grain yield ardab per faddan (22.5 and 22.6 ardab/fad), in both seasons compared with other levels. The increase in growth traits associated with increasing nitrogen fertilization may be attributed to the role of nitrogen in enhancement meristematic activity and cell division, which caused increase in internodes length, number of internodes and both of them. The increase in grain yield and its attributes because of increasing nitrogen fertilizer levels up to 130 kg N/fed can be easily ascribed to the role of nitrogen in activating growth of plants, consequently enhancement yield components (ear dimension, number and weight of grains/ear as well as 100-grain weight) and consequently increasing grain yield per unit area. In the other hand, nitrogen application up to 90 kg N/fad decreased the period from sowing to 50 % tassling and silking in both seasons. This decrease may be due to enhanced growth rate and accumulate and dry matter accumulation of more assimilate and dry matter accumulation in an early stage. In addition, the increases in grain protein percentage by raising nitrogen levels may be due to the fact that nitrogen for essential for building up to the protoplasm amino acids and proteins. These results are in compatible with those found by by Seadh and El-Zehery, 2007; Abd El-Maksoud and Sarhan, 2008; Sharifi and Taghizadeh, 2009; Akmal et al., 2010; Soliman and Gharib, 2011; El-Naggar, Nehal et al., 2012 and Seadh et al. 2013).
Table 2: Days from sowing to 50% tasseling, days from sowing to 50% silking, plant height (cm), ear height (cm), stem diameter (cm), leaf area of the ear leaf, ear length (cm) of maize as affected by nitrogen fertilization levels, Foliar spraying dates and foliar application levels during 1989 and 1990 seasons.
Days from sowing to 50% tasseling
Days from sowing to 50% silking
Plant height (cm)
Ear height (cm)
Stem diameter (cm)
Leaf area of the ear leaf
Ear length (cm)
A- Nitrogen fertilization levels:
LSD 5 %
B-Foliar spraying dates:
After 30 days
After 50 days
After 30 and 50 days
LSD 5 %
C- Foliar application:
LSD 5 %
Table 3: Ear diameter (cm), no. of kernels/row, 100-kernel weight (g), shelling (%), grain yield/plant (g), grain yield/fad, crude protein (%) of maize as affected by nitrogen fertilization levels, foliar spraying dates and nitrogen fertilization levels, Foliar spraying dates and foliar application levels during 1989 and 1990 seasons.
Ear diameter (cm)
No. of kernels/row
100-kernel weight (g)
Grain yield/plant (g)
Crude protein (%)
A- Nitrogen fertilization levels:
LSD 5 %
B-Foliar spraying dates:
After 30 days
After 50 days
After 30 and 50 days
LSD 5 %
C- Foliar application:
LSD 5 %
2- Effect of foliar spraying dates
The effect of foliar spraying dates on maize growth characteristics, yield and its components as well as grain quality i.e. days from sowing to 50% tasseling and silking, plant height (cm), ear height (cm), stem diameter (cm), leaf area of the ear leaf, ear length (cm), ear diameter (cm), no. of kernels/row, 100-kernel weight (g), shelling (%), grain yield/plant (g), grain yield/fad, crude protein (%) were significant in both seasons (Tables 2 and 3). From obtained results, it could be observed that spraying foliar nutrients after 50 days from planting increased plant height (273 and 234), ear height (108 and 110 cm), leaf area (565.4 and 554.2 cm2), ear length (17.9 and 18.0 cm), ear diameter (4.3 and 4.5 cm), number of kernels/row (35.8 and 36.9), 100-kernel weight (36.5 and 37.6 g), shelling percentage (78.9 and 78.6 %), grain yield/plant (177.5 and 178.5 g), grain yield ardab per faddan (18.5 and 18.6 ardab/fad), in both seasons compared with other application dates. These results stand in harmony with those founded by (Bedeer (1984).
3- Effect of foliar nutrients application
Data presented in Tables 2 and 3 revealed that the effect of foliar nutrients application on growth characters, yield and its components as well as grain quality. It can be stated that application of foliar nutrients significantly affected all studied characters. From presented data it could be concluded that Irral application at the rate of 300 g/fad caused significant increase in plant height (235 and 238 cm), ear height (108 and 111 cm), stem diameter (2.3 and 2.4 cm), leaf area (570.6 and 558.0 cm2), ear length (18.1 and 18.2 cm), ear diameter (4.4 and 4.6 cm), number of kernels/row (36.4 and 37.3), 100-kernel weight (37.2 and 38.2 g), shelling percentage (79.3 and 79.0 %), grain yield/plant (180.0 and 181.2 g), grain yield ardab per faddan (18.8 and 18.9 ardab/fad), in both seasons compared with other application foliar nutrients. While, application of Sicotreen Zn at the rate of 300 g/fad recorded the lowest values of most studied characters. With exception, number of days from planting to 50 % tassling and silking increased in both growing seasons. Theses increase due to suitable dose of the micro-elements in question or a combination of special micro-element could increase growth, yield and its components as well as grain quality through their roles in metabolism of maize and increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis apparatus. Moreover, a considerable improvement in photosynthesis and increase in outflow of carbohydrates from the leaves was observed in maize plant due to application of such nutrients elements. These results in a good harmony with those founded by Badawi et al. (1989), Singh et al. (2002), Welch (2003), Malakouti (2008), Adhikary et al. (2010), Ghaffari et al. (2011), Yosefi et al. (2011), Salem and El-Gizawy (2012) and Seadh et al. (2013).
4- Effect of interactions
Many significant interaction effects between both studied factors on growth characteristics, yield and its components as well as grain quality as illustrated in figs 1-26. Maximum plant height (261.6 and 263.4 cm) Figs 5 and 6, ear height (128.2 and 130.0 cm) Figs 7 and 8, stem diameter (2.6 and 2.7 cm) Figs 9 and 10, and leaf flag area (728.0 and 667.5 cm2) Figs 11 and 12, ear length (21.5 and 22.0 cm) Figs 13 and 14, ear diameter (4.9 and 5.1 cm) Figs 15 and 16, number of kernels/row (43.7 and 45.1) Figs 17 and 18, 100-kernels weight (43.7 and 44.7 g) Figs 19 and 20, shelling percentage (80.8 and 80.7%) Figs 21 and 22, grain yield/plant (208.9 and 210.8 g) Figs 23 and 24, grain yield/fad (23.9 and 24.0 ardab/fad) Figs 25 and 26, grain protein percentage (10.7 and 11.0 %) and the minimum number of days to 50% tasseling and silking (51.25 and 50.25 days) Figs 1, 2 and 3, 4 in both seasons were recorded under the combination of 90 kg N/fad and spraying Irral at the rate of of 300 g/fad after 50 days from planting.
It can be concluded that fertilizing maize cultivar pioneer karnak double cross plants by 90 kg N/fad and foliar spraying with Irral x as a foliar nutrients application at the rate of 300 g/fad after 50 days from planting in order to maximizing its growth characters, yield and its components as well as grain quality under the environmental conditions of El-Sinbelaween Center, Dakahlia Governorate.
Figure 1. Averages of 50% tasseling as affected by the interaction between nitrogen levels, foliar spraying dates and foliar nutrients application in 1989 season.
Figure 2. Averages of 50% tasseling as affected by the interaction between nitrogen levels, foliar spraying dates and foliar nutrients application in 1990 season.
Figure 3. Averages of 50% silking as affected by the interaction between nitrogen levels, foliar spraying dates and foliar nutrients application in 1989 season.
Figure 4. Averages of 50% silking as affected by the interaction between nitrogen levels, foliar spraying dates and foliar nutrients application in 1990 season.
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