Agronomic performance and sweet corn quality as a function of inoculant doses (Azospirillum brasilense) and nitrogen fertilization management in summer harvest
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ABSTRACT The inoculation of sweet corn seeds with Azospirillum brasilense in association to nitrogen fertilizer may be an agronomic alternative for increasing the crop yield and net income of plant growers. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the different doses of inoculant (Azospirillum brasilense) associated to the nitrogen fertilization management on the phenotypic traits of one sweet corn hybrid in summer growing periods, under supplemental irrigation, in the Northwestern Paraná state, Brazil. The experiment followed the complete randomized block design with four replications. The treatments were: i) five inoculant doses (0.0, 50, 100, 150 and200 mL∙ha–1) containing Azospirillum brasilense; ii) two N doses (0.0 and 30.0 kg∙ha–1) applied at sowing time; and iii) two topdressing doses of N (0.0 and 110.0 kg∙ha–1) applied at the V4 stage. The sweet corn hybrid RB 6324 was evaluated in 2012/2013, 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. The traits plant height (ranged from 2.11 to 2.26 m), leaf area index (3.33 to 4.32), crop yield (7.21 to 10.43 Mg.ha–1), and the sugar kernel contents (38.46 to 43.31%) and protein (12 to 12.81%) were positively influenced by the seed inoculation with A. brasilense, and the nitrogen fertilizer increased all the traits except the kernel total sugars. The dose of inoculant that provided the best agronomic result was 100 mL∙ha–1 in conjunction with the application of N either at sowing or topdressing.