Source: American Society of Agronomy
Slight changes in climatic conditions may cause substantial yield losses in maize yields, resulting in great food shortages and economic losses. Consequently, numerous breeding programs are currently evaluating maize stability under different climatic stress conditions. However, many breeders design yield improvement programs without first conducting preliminary studies to determine which environmental factors actually limit the crop and which genetic parameters are essentially affected.
Scientists in northwestern Spain, from the Spanish National Council, have investigated the effects of multiple climatic stresses on maize grain yield. The study, which was funded by the Spanish Plan of Research and Development, evaluated 76 Spanish populations of maize, along with five commercial hybrids. Research was conducted at three distinct locations over three years, for a total of nine environments. Evaluations were made under multiple stress conditions, including a shortage of water, cold temperature and low nutrient availability. No pesticide or herbicide treatments were applied during the growing cycle, and weeding was limited in order to allow competition. Data on several traits related to plant development and yield were collected on each plot. Environmental variables were also recorded to monitor variations in temperature and rainfall during the growth season.