Mapping of maize growing period over the Free State Province of South Africa : heat units approach

30 Oct 2019

Temperature is one of the important environmental parameters that determines the development of a crop from one stage to another. It is integral in the calculation of heat units. In this study, the thermal index concept is used to determine the length of the growing period of short season, medium season, and medium-late season maize crop varieties for different sowing dates (1st dekad of October to 1st dekad of January). The results show high spatiotemporal variation in the median growing period for all three maize varieties. The length of the growing period for the short, medium, and medium-late season varieties is relatively short during October to early December with values in some areas of less than100,120,and120 days, respectively. The duration of the planting period increases exponentially in most places starting from the 2nd dekad of November to 2nd dekad of December, depending on the region and crop variety. Long growing periods are likely to align maize growing period with dates of high frost risk and water shortages. Thus, appropriate choice of sowing date taking into consideration the thermal time requirements of the cultivar is crucial for proper growth and development of the maize crop.