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Title: Evaluation of SPAD chlorophyll fluorescence for on-site nitrogen assessment in drip fertigated sweet corn
Authors: Kitonga-Mwanza, Lydia L.M.
Swiader, John
Mulwa, Richard M.S.
Keywords: Sweet corn
N-fertilizer, silking
Issue Date: Apr-2013
Abstract: This study was conducted over two growing seasons to evaluate the potential use of the Minolta SPAD-502 chlorophyll meter for rapid onsite determination of plant N status in a drip-fertigated nitrogen cropping regime of sweet corn. Four N fertilizer rates (0, 84, 168, and 336 kg N ha-1) were applied to two sweet corn cultivars (‘Kandy Plus’ and ‘Sugar Ace’) in a factorial split-plot design. Leaf SPAD and leaf total N concentration were measured at 4 different growth stages (seventh leaf stage (V7), tenth leaf stage V10), silking (R1) and milking (R3) in season one and three sampling stages (V6, V10 and R1) in 2002. In season two, leaf N concentrations and leaf ‘SPAD chlorophyll’ measurements increased early in the season up to silking (R1 growth stage) and declined thereafter. Leaf N concentrations and leaf SPAD readings were positively correlated. Critical SPAD values (readings associated with the lowest N fertilizer rate and providing the highest marketable ear yield) were estimated as 52.8, 52.1 and 59.0 at V7, V10 and R1 in season one; in season two the values were 51.0, 49, and 56.5 receptively. Regressing N rate on yield placed maximum ear yields at 13.8 tons ha-1 with 174.8 kg N ha-1 in season one and 9.7 tons ha-1 with 306.2 kg ha-1 in season two. Increase in leaf SPAD readings at silking reflects a strong sink/source relationship among leaves for absorbed N. The positive relationship between leaf SPAD readings and leaf N status is due to the responsiveness of SPAD-chlorophyll to N fertilizer application. These results indicate that the SPAD meter can be used effectively to assess sweet corn N status early in the season, and at this time it is possible to correct any N deficiencies that might compromise yields.
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