Increasing plant density seems to improve the productivity of maize crops, and the understanding of how the metabolism of non-structural carbohydrates is affected in plants under high crop density is critical. Thus, with the objective of further clarifying this issue, maize plants were subjected to densities from 30,000 to 90,000 plants ha−1
, and the plant growth, soluble sugars and starch contents, invertase and sucrose synthase activities, and plant production were evaluated. We found that the stalk is more sensitive to the increasing plant density than leaves and kernels. The dry weight of the stalk and leaves per single plant decreased more drastically from low to intermediate plant densities, while grain production was reduced linearly in all plant density ranges, leading to higher values of harvest index in intermediate plant densities. The sucrose concentration did not change in leaves, stalk, or kernels of plants subjected to increasing plant densities at the R4 stage. Also, the specific activity of soluble invertase, bound invertase, and sucrose synthase did not change in leaf, stalk, or kernels of plants subjected to increased plant density. The productivity was increased with the increase in plant density, using narrow row (0.45 m) spacing.
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