Investigation of Biotic and Abiotic Factors Affecting Double-Cropped Corn (Zea mays L.) Production in Virginia
Double-cropping of corn (Zea mays L.) for grain following the harvest of a small grain crop has been under evaluation in Virginia as an alternative cropping strategy (Brann and Pitman, 1997). To assess the potential constraints on late planted corn imposed by insects and diseases, double-cropped corn was evaluated in field experiments in Montgomery County, Virginia from 1998 to 2000. Factors included two near-isoline hybrids (NK4640 and NK4640Bt), insecticides at planting (tefluthrin in all years, 1998-2000; and imidacloprid in 1999 and 2000), and fungicide treatments (azoxystrobin or propiconazole). Response variables included yield, moisture at harvest, grain test weight, damage by European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), damage by corn earworm (Heliothis zea), disease progress curves for gray leaf spot Cercospora zeae-maydis), and number of plants exhibiting virus symptoms. The Bt hybrid performed significantly better than the non-Bt hybrid for yield and test weight in double-cropped corn in 1998 and 2000, but not in 1999. A spatially referenced site suitability analysis was performed for full season and double-cropped corn in Virginia using weighted abiotic factors and constraints. Thornthwaite potential evapotranspiration (PET) and PET minus precipitation were used to identify areas of the state having a lower average moisture deficit during the silking months for double-cropped corn compared to full-season corn. It is concluded that double-cropped corn production is a viable option in Virginia where abiotic factors are not constraining, particularly growing season length and moisture availability during the sensitive stages of development.