INFLUENCE OF IRRIGATION LEVELS AND PLANT DENSITY ON "SECOND-SEASON" MAIZE
ABSTRACT This study assessed the effect of different irrigation levels and plant densities on maize crops cultivated during the second season in the Western Border region of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. This work was conducted at the Federal Institute of Farroupilha - Alegrete Campus/RS - between January and June 2014. Treatments were arranged in a completely randomized 5 × 4 factorial design, with 3 replicates each. Irrigation of fixed amounts of water that were based on the evapotranspiration of the culture (Etc): 0, 50, 75, 100, and 125% of Etc were applied at 5-day intervals. Four densities of plants were defined (4, 7, 10, and 13 plants m-2). We assessed number of maize ears per plant, number of grains per ear, aboveground dry matter, mass of 100 grains, harvest index, and grain productivity. The number of grains per ear, mass of 100 grains, and grain yield were influenced by irrigation levels. Plant density and water depth influenced the number of grains per ear, the mass of 100 grains, and grain productivity. The highest yield of winter maize grain was achieved with a combination of 13 plants per m-2 and an irrigation level of 100% of Etc. Specific densities of plants maximized the yield of maize at each irrigation level, demonstrating that choice of plant density is a critical variable in the second crop of maize, and significantly influences the components of production.