With the recent resurgence in interest in models describing maize (Zea mays
L.) development rate responses to temperature, this study uses published data to refit the Poikilotherm equation and compare it to broken stick “heat stress” equations. These data were for the development rate of eight open pollinated maize varieties at diverse sites in Africa. The Poikilotherm equation was applied with the original published parameters and after refitting with the data in this study. The heat stress equation was tested after fitting with just the first variety and after fitting with each variety. The Poikilotherm equation with the original parameter values had large errors in predicting development rates in much of the temperature range. The adjusted Poikilotherm equation did much better with the root-mean-square error (RMSE) decreasing from 0.034 to 0.003 (1/day) for a representative variety. The heat stress equation fit to the first variety did better than the Poikilotherm equation when applied to all the varieties. The heat stress equations fitted separately for each variety did not have an improved fit compared to the one heat stress equation. Thus, separate fitting of such an equation for different varieties may not be necessary. The one heat stress equation, the separate heat stress equation, and the Poikilotherm equation each had a better fit than nonlinear Briere et al. curves. The Poikilotherm equation showed promise, realistically capturing the high, low, and optimum rate values measured. All the equations showed promise to some degree for future applications in simulating the maize development rate. When fitting separate regressions for each variety for the heat stress equations, the base temperatures had a mean of 5.3 °C, similar to a previously published value of 6 °C. The last variety had noticeably different rates than the others. This study demonstrated that a simple approach (the heat stress equation) should be adequate in many cases. It also demonstrated that more detailed equations can be useful when a more mechanistic system is desired. Future research could investigate the reasons for the different development rate response of the last variety and investigate similar varieties.
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