A study was conducted at the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), Central Research Station, Mount Makulu (latitude: 15.550° S, longitude: 28.250° E, altitude: 1213 m), Zambia to investigate the effects of sowing date (SD), maize (Zea mays L.) cultivars and 3 N fertilizer rates on yield and yield components. Maize cultivars were planted on 12th December, 2016 (SD1), 26th December, 2016 (SD2) and 9th January, 2017 (SD3). A split-split plot design was setup with SD, maize cultivars (ZMS 606, PHB 30G19 and PHB 30B50) and nitrogen rate (67.20, 134.40 and 201.60 kg N ha-1) as the main-plot, subplot and sub-subplot, respectively. The rainfall, solar radiation (Srad) and mean temperature at the experimental site during the 2016/2017 season were 930.17 mm, 18.93 MJ m-2 day-1 and 21.83°C, respectively. Analysis of variance for Split-split plot design was used to analyze maize yield and yield components and means separated at p≤5 using Tukey’s Tests. Results showed that the treatment effect of sowing date and cultivar was significant on biomass yield, harvest index, 100-grain weight, seed number m-2, cob length, and width. Seed number m-2, 100-grain weight, grain and biomass yield reduced with delay in sowing date. The reduction in grain yield from SD1-SD2 (1.91 t ha-1), SD1-SD3 (2.90 t ha-1) and SD2-SD3 (0.99 t ha-1) were 21.04, 31.83 and 13.83%, respectively. Therefore, it was concluded that maize grain yield and yield components are affected by SD, cultivar and N. Farmers could enhance maize yield by manipulating sowing date, cultivar selection and N as the most limiting nutrient in agriculture production systems.
Key words: Biomass, corn cultivars, date of sowing, grain yield, leaf area index, nitrogen, total dry matter, yield.
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