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Evaluation of corn kernel maturation by the milk line for chemical desiccants application

In order to determine the time of application of desiccant to antecipate corn harvest without yield loss, the kernel milk line was used as a mean of visual monitoring of grain maturity in maize. The experiment was carried out in 1993 on a Red-yellow Podzolic soil, using HT 8551 corn hybrid (Zeneca Sementes Ltda). Grain maturity was monitored by the movement of the milk line and compared with the humidity loss, cumulative dry matter yield, and development of the kernel black layer. Desiccant paraquat (1,1-dimethyl-4,4-bipyridinium ion) was applied to the whole plant, at the rate of 400g/ha, in six different periods, seven days apart. Milk line showed to be an easily detected characteristic to follow grain maturity and to estimate grain humidity. There was no significant increase in grain dry matter mass when milk line was placed after the mid of the kernel, which had 35% humidity. Milk line reached the base of the kernel when grain humidity was below 30%. When grain humidity was below 42% (milk line in the upper third part of the grain) paraquat application did not affect significantly the decrease of grain moisture which occur during maturation. Grain yield was not affected by desiccant application 127 days after planting, or later (milk line placed in the middle of the grain), whereas earlier sprays caused yield losses. Seed germination was not affected by paraquat application.

corn; desiccant; physiological maturity; kernel moisture; paraquat; dry weight accumulation

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