ISSN: 2455-815X
International Journal of Agricultural Science and Food Technology
Research Article       Open Access      Peer-Reviewed

Effect of watering frequency on germination and early growth of maize (Zea mays) seed

Gudisa Hailu1*, Tsega’ab Tesfaye1 and Rosa Ayalkibet2

1Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ambo Plant protection Research Center P.O. Box 37, Ambo, Ethiopia
2Ambo University, Ambo, P. O. Box 19, Ethiopia
*Corresponding author: Gudisa Hailu, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ambo Plant protection Research Center P.O. Box 37, Ambo, Ethiopia, E-mail:
Received: 11 July, 2021 | Accepted: 11 Febraury, 2020 | Published: 13 Febraury, 2021
Keywords: Maize; Watering frequency; Experiment

Cite this as

Hailu G, Tesfaye T, Ayalkibet R (2021) Effect of watering frequency on germination and early growth of maize (Zea mays) seed. J Agric Sc Food Technol 7(1): 048-052. DOI: 10.17352/2455-815X.000087

Maize (Zea mays) is one of the most important cereal crops grown principally during the raining season in Ethiopia which is commonly used for both human consumption and poultry feed. Green house experiment on the effect of watering frequency on germination and early growth of maize was carried out at Ambo Agricultural Research Center using a hybrid maize variety (Jibat) (Zea mays) from December 1 to January20th, 2018/19. The study was conducted to determine the effect of watering frequencies on germination and early growth of maize seed (Zea mays). The highland maize hybrid variety of AMH-851 (Jibat) was used as a test crop for the experiment. Three watering frequencies one day interval, three days intervals and five days intervals were used as an experimental treatment, and they were laid out in a Completely Randomized Design (CRD) with four replications. The watering frequencies showed statistically significant differences, on plant shoot length and biomass weight, but the treatments didn’t reveal statistical difference on seedlings emergence. Therefore, one day watering interval shows better performance on shoot length, fresh and dry biomass.


Irrigation can be described as the artificial application of water to soil for the purpose of agricultural production. It is primarily considered when there are suspected problems with rained crop production. Rainfall may be unreliable in amount and duration of timing. For instance, rainfall may vary from year to year, or the onset and cessation of the rains may be uncertain (Gevens, 2007). Meanwhile, there may be period of drought during the rainy season itself. Irrigation systems are considered because they solve the problem of food production and the materials needed or used for the practice are not as scarce as they appear to be. Effective irrigation will influence the entire growth and yield process from seedbed preparation, germination, root growth, nutrient utilization, plant growth regrowth, yield and quality [1]. Water is essential for irrigation purposes, but its indiscriminate use can lead not only to shortages, but also to the deterioration of crop yields and soils. It is hence vital to ensure that it is applied as effectively as possible in order to reach sustainability. Maize production was increased with a combination of deep tillage and good irrigation system.

Maize (Zea mays) is one of the most important cereal crops grown principally during the raining season in Ethiopia which is commonly used for both human consumption and poultry feed. The local production of the crop is not sufficient to meet the continuous increase of consumption. Therefore Deborah, et al. [2] compared three methods of irrigations under climatic conditions such as wind, drip and furrow irrigation, she then came up with the conclusion that drip and furrow irrigation methods are preferred to sprinkler. Humphreys [3], while comparing the same irrigation methods under slope condition submitted that sprinkler and drip irrigation are preferred to furrow irrigation. Whether sprinkler, drip or furrow, a significant effect has been realized on the growth and yield of a crop when a system is properly designed [4].

Irrigation frequency is the number of days between irrigation periods without rainfall. Crop irrigation requirement is the portion of the water consumptive use of crop, which must be supplied by irrigation to ensure optimal crop growth and development. With the rising human population and resultant increase in daily demand for maize for various uses, it becomes imperative to intensify effort at all year-round Maize Production in the country. Traditional crop of maize is greatly affected by various weather conditions. The rain in the country is very uncertain and may either cause prolonged drought or water-logged conditions. It is, therefore, essential to consider both aspects of water requirement to produce 1 kg of dry matter is the lowest in case of maize. Thus, very high water use efficiency can be achieved by maize as compared to other cereal crops. Although maize needs less water requirement for germination, it needs 10 to 30 times greater than that of wheat and mustard. According to (Rathore, 2005), it is very critical to have enough moisture for the maize seed, during germination so that successful seed germination may occur. In Ethiopia, there is no adequate information on early time water requirement of maize.

General objective

➢ To determine the effect of watering frequencies on germination and early growth of maize

Specific objective

➢ To evaluate the germination and growth of maize in different watering frequency

Material and methods

Soil type

According to FAO classification, the soil type of the study area is Vertisols [5]. The soil of study area is clay dominated and the soil textural class is clay [6]. Vertisols are clay rich soils contain a type of expansive clay that shrinks and swells dramatically. Vertisols is categorized in problematic soil due to its waterlogging problem. However, Vertisols are highly fertile soil type than red soils due to their high clay content with high cation exchangeable capacity [5]. The soil type is characterized as follows Table 1.

Experimental location

The experiment was undertaken in Ambo Agricultural Research Center, one of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research located. The research centre is located in West Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional state. The site is located at 116 km west of Addis Ababa (The capital city of the Ethiopia) having an altitude of 2185 m.a.s.l., latitude of 8.9658333 N and longitude of 37.85556 E with mean annual minimum and maximum temperatures of about 110C and 260C, respectively. According to metrological data obtained from Ambo Agricultural Research Center the area receives mean annual rainfall of 1244 mm with uni-modal rainfall pattern. Similarly, according to long term metrological data from this station the mean minimum mean maximum and average air temperatures of in the study area is10.2, 26.4 and 18.3oC, respectively (Ambo Agricultural Research Center Metrological Station).

Experimental material

Sterilized soil was filled in 8 cm diameter clay pots and sown with maize seed in Ambo Agricultural Research center green house. Four seeds were sown per each pot evenly and with equal sowing depth. Maize hybrid variety - Jibata was used as planting material. The pots were arranged in CRD with four replication in a greenhouse such a way that 4 pots were watered at day interval, four pots with the three days interval and four pots with the five days interval were watered using an equal volume of water for consecutive 20 days. The twelve pots (15cm diameter) height of the pots are 20 cm were used to triplicate twelve treatment combinations (6×2) with a two factor factorial completely randomized design. The pots were lined with plastic bags from inside to restrict leaching. Each pot was filled with 10 kg soil after mixing combining. The pots possess holes at the bottom to suck water during watering.

Experimental design and data analysis

The treatment was arranged in Completely Randomized Design (CRD) with four replications. Data collected were number seeds emerged, shoot length and biomass weight. The collected data were analyzed using standard data analysis method using MSTATC (Version 9.4) programmed software and mean separation was made using Duncan’s Multiple Range Test at alpha level of 0.05 (α=5%). Seeds emerged Procedure was take after 20 day interval emerged Seeds was count. It was calculated by counting normal seedlings after 20 days from planting. If seed is large the emerging seedling has a larger food source to depend on before it gets established. Seedlings from bigger seeds tend to emerge more successfully and are more vigorous both at the start of their life and throughout their whole life. Shoot length (cm) after 20 days from planting the seedling biomass was gently washed to remove the soil and shoot length was measured of each pot and each treatment seedlings (cm). Biomass weight after evaluating shoot and root lengths, from each pot 4 seedlings were dried in a forced air at green house at room temperature 28°C for 5 days to obtain seedlings dry weight and expressed as grams. The number of seedlings were limited to only four, because of the experiment was designed for the green house and to use the advantage of the pot size.

Results and discussion

The effect of watering frequencies on germination and early growth of maize seeds were observed under different watering frequencies. As shown in Table 2, watering frequencies had no significance effect on number of maize seedlings emergence, but considerable variation was observed on their emergence date, that the early emergence of maize seeds were enhanced during watering made daily than the rest of the treatments. As watering frequency decreased from 1 to 5 days interval, seedling emergence was delayed significantly (P<.0.05). This indicates that a continuous application of enough water to the soil and maintaining soil moisture enhance the emergence of maize seeds to be takes placed earlier. These findings are in agreement with the results of Kang, et al. and Ismail, et al. [7,8], they stated that watering frequencies had a significant and negative effect on maize shoot length, as the date of watering elongated, the shoot length consistently and significantly reduced (Table 3). Thus, unlike maize seedlings emergence its growth very much dependent up on the amount and rate of watering. Similarly, watering frequencies had significance effect on maize biomass production. In that daily watered plots considerably outperformed the others in biomass weight gained.

A total of 16 seeds were used for each interval (One day interval, three-day interval and Five-day interval) and two counts were done during the present studies. The first count was done five days after sowing. In these rounds a total of 16 seed were used for each of the three intervals. The present studies result elucidates that continuous application of enough moisture via watering in three-day interval enhance relatively higher (50%) percentage of germination followed by one day interval (43.75%) (Figure 1). This implied that moisture stress negatively affects root initiation earlier even in pot growing conditions as in field conditions. This is related with a work done by Konopka, et al. [9], irrigation intervals of 14 or 21 days initiated an earlier growth of seminal roots in the seedlings than when irrigated more frequently. The delay in root emergence with frequent irrigations could be due to the diffusion of water into the seed for its physiological processes of early growth But maintaining adequate amount of moisture in the soil fasten early emergence. The second count was done seven days after sowing. In these rounds a total of 16 seed were used for each of the three intervals. The result showed that the application of water or providing enough moisture at five-day interval enhance or promote relatively better germination performance (68.75%) followed one day interval (56.25%) (Figure 2).

As shown in Table 3, watering frequencies on all the treatments had no significance effect on number of maize seedlings emergence.

Watering frequencies had significance effect on maize green biomass production among the treatments, for instance, in one day interval watered plots had maximum weight of green biomass when compared with the remaining treatments. However, there is no considerable significant difference between the two treatments (Three-day interval and five-day interval) in terms of green biomass Table 6.

Watering frequencies had significance effect on maize dry biomass production among the treatments, for instance, in one day interval watered pots had maximum weight of dry biomass when compared with the remaining treatments. However, there is no considerable significant difference between the two treatments (Three-day interval and five-day interval) in terms of dry biomass [19-22].


The research work determined the effect of watering frequency on emergence and early growth of maize seedlings. The early growths of maize are greatly affected by the different watering frequency. So that, the different watering frequencies considerably affected plant shoot length, green biomass weight and dry biomass weight, however, these studies have revealed there is no significant difference among the treatments (One day interval, three-day interval and five-day interval) in terms of maize seed emergence. So that we concluded that moisture however is critical for seedling emergence in the treatments used in the study.

  1. Agriculture, Food and Forestry (2010) Irrigation. Department of Primary Industries. Link:
  2. Deborah JN, Alexander P, Herring M (2003) Watering private proper wetlands in the Murray Valley, New South Wales. Ecological Management and Restoration 4: 5-12. Link:
  3. Edakr H (2002) Determination of Irrigation Efficiency and Deep Drainage for Irrigated Maize with a Shadow Water Table. Proceeding of Symposium on soil water management November, USA.
  4. Sieber F, Hoogeveen SJ, Döll P, Faurès JM, Fieck S, et al. (2006) The Digital Global map of irrigation Area Development and validation of map version 4. Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development. Link:
  5. WRB (World Reference Base) (2006) World Reference Base for Soil Resources: A framework for International Classification. World soil Reference Reports No.103.FAO, Rome, Italy. Link:
  6. Debele T (2014) Effects of drain depth of vertisols, nitrogen source and time of application on yield and yield components of maize (Zea mays L.) in Ambo, Western Ethiopia. MSc Thesis, Haramaya University, Haramaya, Ethiopia.
  7. Kang S, Zhang L, Hu X, Li Z, Jerie P (2001) An improved water use efficiency for hot pepper grown under controlled alternate drip irrigation on partial roots. Sci Hortic 89: 257-267. Link:
  8. Ismail SM, Ozawa K, Khondaker AN (2007) Effect of irrigation frequency and timing on tomato yield, soil water dynamics and water use efficiency under drip irrigation. Eleventh International Water Technology Conference, IWTC11 2007 Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt 69-84. Link:
  9. Konopka B, Pages L, Doussan C (2008) Impact of soil compaction, heterogeneity and moisture on maize (Zea mays L.) root and shoot development. Plant, Soil Environ 54: 509–519. Link:
  10. Cominelli EM, Tonelli CG (2008) Integration of water stress response: Cell expansion and cuticledeposition in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Signal Behav 3: 556557. Link:
  11. Dunford NT, Vazquez RS (2005) Effect of water stress on plant growth and thymol and carvacrolconcentrations in Mexican oregano grown under controlled conditions. Journal of Applied Horticulture 7: 2022. Link:
  12. Akinyele OA, Oladimeji ST, Anjorin SE, Akinola OJ, Oke AM (2016) Effect of Irrigation Frequency on the growth of Selected Maize (Zea Mays) Varieties. International Journal of Innovative Science, Engineering and Technology 3. Link:
  13. Ashagre H, Hamza IA, Tesfaye B, Derebachew D, Ayana B, et al. (2014) Emergence and Seedling Growth of Corn (Zea mays L.) as Influenced by Irrigation Schedules on Vertisol. Int Res J Plant Sci 5: 17-22. Link:
  14. Coe EH, Nueffer MG, Hoisington DA (1988) The genetics of maize. In G.F Sprague and J.W. Dudley, Eds. Corn and corn improvement. Agronomy Monographs. American Society of Agronomy: Madison, Wisconsin 81-236.
  15. Badawi D, Moursy MA (2007) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Requirement for Maize (Zea Mays) Growth in a Newly Reclaimed Sandy soil. Journal of Agricultural science.
  16. Kumar D, Jhariya AN (2013) Nutritional, Medicinal and Economical importance of Corn: A Mini Review. Res. J. Pharmaceutical Sci 2: 7-8. Link:
  17. Hitchcock AS, Chase A (1971) Manual of the grasses of the United States. Dover Publications: N.Y 2: 790-796.
  18. International Food Biotechnology Council (IFBC) (1990) Biotechnologies and food: assuring the safety of foods produced by genetic modification. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 12: S1-S196.
  19. Morton WH (1977) Geological notes for the field excursion. In: Reports of the Second Meeting of the Eastern Africa Sub-Committee for soil Correlation and Land Evaluation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25-30 October 1976. Soil Resource Reports No. 47. FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), Rome 96-100.
  20. Sprague GF, Eberhart SA (1977) Maize Breeding. In Corn and Corn Improvement. Agronomy Monographs No. 18. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, Wisconsin 312-313.
  21. Walton WR, Luginbil P (1916) The Fall Army Worm, Or "Grass Worm," And Its Control, Entomological Asaistanls, Cereal and Forage Insect Investigations. United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 752. Link:
  22. Wych RD (1988) Production of hybrid seed corn. In G.F Sprague and J.W. Dudley, Eds. Maize and Maize Improvement. Agronomy Monographs No.18; 565-605. American Society of Agronomy: Madison, Wisconsin. Link:
© 2021 Hailu G, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Help ?