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Open AccessArticle

Potassium Application Improves Grain Yield and Alleviates Drought Susceptibility in Diverse Maize Hybrids

1
College of Agriculture, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Bahadur Sub-Campus, Layyah 31200, Pakistan
2
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur 63100, Pakistan
3
Department of Agro-ecology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2020, 9(1), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9010075
Received: 6 September 2019 / Revised: 18 October 2019 / Accepted: 19 October 2019 / Published: 7 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important component of global food security but its production is threatened by abiotic stresses in climate change scenarios, especially drought stress. Many multinational companies have introduced maize hybrids worldwide which have variable performance under diverse environmental conditions. The maize production is likely to be affected by a future water crisis. Potassium (K) is a well-known macronutrient which improves the performance of cereals under abiotic stresses. In this field experiment, we assessed the influence of soil applied K on the productivity of diverse maize hybrids grown under well-watered and drought stress conditions. The study consisted of three K levels viz., control (no KCl), KCl at 50 kg ha−1, and KCI at 75 kg ha−1 factorally combined with two irrigation levels (i.e., normal recommended irrigation, well-watered condition, and half of the recommended irrigation, drought stress condition) and eight maize hybrids. Irrigation was kept in main plots, potassium in subplot, and maize hybrids in sub-subplots. The results revealed that performance of the maize hybrids was significantly influenced by all three factors, and the interaction of irrigation with potassium and irrigation with hybrids was significant; results being non-significant for all other interactions. Potassium application improved yield traits and water productivity under both normal and water stress conditions but effect was more prominent under water stress conditions than normal conditions. Potassium application also alleviated drought susceptibility of all maize hybrids. In all cases, the performance of maize hybrids was maximum under potassium application at 75 kg ha−1. View Full-Text
Keywords: water deficit; biological yield; grain yield; drought susceptibility index water deficit; biological yield; grain yield; drought susceptibility index
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Ul-Allah, S.; Ijaz, M.; Nawaz, A.; Sattar, A.; Sher, A.; Naeem, M.; Shahzad, U.; Farooq, U.; Nawaz, F.; Mahmood, K. Potassium Application Improves Grain Yield and Alleviates Drought Susceptibility in Diverse Maize Hybrids. Plants 2020, 9, 75.

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