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Revista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo

versão On-line ISSN 1806-9657

Resumo

VILELA, E. F.  e  BULL, L. T.. Evaluation of maize growth as a function of potassium rates and water stress. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Solo [online]. 1999, vol.23, n.2, pp.281-289. ISSN 1806-9657.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-06831999000200012.

The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of potassium rates and water stress levels on the growth of maize (Zea mays, L.) plants. A pot (40 dm3) experiment was carried out using a "Terra Roxa Estruturada Latossólica", an Alfisol intergrade to Oxisol, clayey loam soil, in Botucatu - São Paulo, Brazil, from December 1994 to February 1995. The experimental design was a randomized block with a (2 x 3 x 5) factorial distribution of the treatments. Two potassium rates (35 and 130 mg dm-3, as KCl) and three water stress levels were studied: no water stress (S0), moderate (S1) and intense (S2) levels, from the 44th day after emergence. All pots were irrigated to maximum soil water potentials (-0,0106 MPa) when the soil water potentials reached -0,0232, -0,0484 and -1,5 MPa for the S0, S1 and S2 treatments, respectively. Plant growth was evaluated during five periods, being the first at 27 days after emergence and each 14 days thereafter. The osmotic adjustment in leaves was measured using the volume-pressure technique. The leaves exhibited osmotic adjustment to potassium levels under moderated water stress. There were no effects of applied water stress levels on the contents of K, Ca and Mg in the leaves; however, the highest rate of potassium promoted the highest concentration of this nutrient and the lowest of Ca and Mg for all periods. The water stress levels did not affect the leaf area; however, the highest water level in soil increased the dry matter of all the components and mainly of the whole plant, the latter being the best parameter to evaluate water deficits. Potassium increased the leaf area, but did not affect any of the studied physiological indices. Water stress increase led to a decrease of the specific leaf area, leaf area rate and leaf matter rate. Potassium did not improve plant growth with limited water supply. However, those plants best supplied with potassium showed the highest mass production, regardless of the applied water levels, suggesting improved crop production.

Palavras-chave : osmotic adjustment; growth analysis; dry matter; physiological indices.

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