Water stress is one of the major abiotic factors affecting crop growth and development at every growth stages. Effects of water deficit on the vegetative growth stage of four maize varieties consisting of two Quality Protein Maize varieties (ILE1OB and ART98SW6OB) and two drought tolerant checks (TZPBSR and DTESTRSYN) were evaluated under the screen house conditions at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (I.A.R & T), Moor Plantation, Ibadan. Maize seeds were sown in 20 L plastic pots filled with 15 kg top soil, which were subjected to four watering regimes of 25, 50, 75 and 100% field capacities (FC). The experimental design was a 4 × 4 factorial fitted into CRD with four replications. Data were collected on days to germination, number of leaves per plant, leaf area, plant height, stem diameter, leaf extension rate, biomass yield and water use efficiency. The result showed that days to germination were prolonged as the moisture availability decreases, while water use efficiency increased as the moisture level reduced. Reduction in moisture availability caused significant reduction in the other evaluated parameters. At 25% FC DTESTRSYN was superior in leaf area, number of leaves per plant, days to germination and water use efficiency, TZPBSR had highest values for stem diameter and biomass yield, while ILE1OB was superior in plant height, stem diameter, leaf and stem extension rate. ILE1OB competes favourably with the drought tolerant checks and performed better than ART98SW6OB. Adequate moisture condition is fundamental for normal growth and development in maize crops.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the response of four maize varieties to different simulated watering regimes in term of proline, starch and soluble sugar contents as well as relative water content. Maize seeds were planted in 64 plastic pots of 20 litre capacity, arranged in a factorial fitted in completely randomized design (CRD), with four replications in the screen house of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (I.A.R&T), Moor Plantation Ibadan. The watering was done based on the designated field capacities (FC) of 25, 50, 75 and 100%. Fresh leaf samples were collected five weeks after planting and at the end of each stress period. The proline, soluble sugar, leaf starch and the relative water contents in the leaves were estimated. The results obtained showed that watering regime significantly influenced the leaf starch, soluble sugar, proline and relative water contents. The varieties also differ significantly in the proline, soluble sugar content, leaf starch and the relative water contents. Watering regime and variety interaction was significant for soluble sugar, starch, proline and the relative water content. Highest soluble sugar of 1.28 mg/g and proline of 35.70 μmol/g FW were obtained when FC was 25% and lowest when watering level was optimum. The starch and relative water contents were optimum under full watering (100% FC) and lowest when field capacity was 25%. Variations were observed with regards to different maize varieties. ART98SW6-OB accumulated the highest quantity of soluble sugar and proline under 25 and 50% field capacities alongside DTESYN, which is a drought tolerant maize variety. It could be concluded that water stress increased production of soluble sugar and proline, while water availability increases relative water content and favors starch accumulation. The consideration of these metabolites alongside other physiological features is a very fast and reliable method for drought tolerant plant selection even at the plant seedling growth stage.