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Seed Corn Research - Final Report

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Title: Seed Corn Research - Final Report
Author: Pitblado, R.E.; Nichols, I.; Danford, R.; Lok, J.; Ridgetown, Ontario Weather Network
Abstract: Southwestern Ontario has been one of the most productive seed corn producing areas anywhere in the world. Climate change however, has given both growers and processors a reason to find ways to stabilize the industry under dry growing conditions. Trials conducted in 2003 demonstrated that a water budget approach to time irrigation events,formulated by the Ontario Weather Network, (OWN), effectively estimated the soil moisture throughout the season. The effort and accuracy to commercially implement the water budget approach has not proven to be as useful to growers as earlier perceived, needing soil analysis, the determination of field capacity and wilting points using the R.A. McBride laboratory methods, accurately measuring rainfall and irrigation quantities and estimating the water loss through evapotranspiration and an undefined crop factor. A friendlier and more cost effective method was tested in 2004 and again this season, 2005,using a capacitance probe, a C-probe, that could deliver hourly soil moisture readings providing the grower an instant “picture” of what was happening in the field. The 2005season was dry, requiring irrigation applications on a timely basis. Three trials were established with water being applied, simulating an irrigation gun system comparing 16seed corn inbreds in a small research plot, using a drip tape approach and evaluating a commercial irrigation gun-system. Remarkable increases in seed corn inbred yield and seed quality was measured. Significant differences amongst the 16 seed corn inbreds to irrigation and non-irrigation practices were noted with the most robust inbreds measured by plant height yielding the highest. The drip irrigation methods showed the most outstanding yield with soil moisture being affected to the greatest extend vs. the overhead gun irrigation method. The use of the Capacitance probe (C-Probe) proved the best method to monitor soil moisture at various soil depths. This method allows growers to make soil water decisions quickly and far more accurately than the previously used water budget method.Properly timed irrigation events can provide the stability necessary to allow this industry to regain its preferred place as the premier growing region for commercial seed corn in the world.
Date: 2005-12

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