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  1. Dreisigacker, Susanne (Ed.)
    Abstract Over the past century of maize (Zea mays L.) breeding, grain yield progress has been the result of improvements in several other intrinsic physiological and morphological traits. In this study, we describe (i) the contribution of kernel weight (KW) to yield genetic gain across multiple agronomic settings and breeding programs, and (ii) the physiological bases for improvements in KW for US hybrids. A global-scale literature review concludes that rates of KW improvement in US hybrids were similar to those of other commercial breeding programs but extended over a longer period of time. There is room for a continued increase of kernel size in maize for most of the genetic materials analysed, but the trade-off between kernel number and KW poses a challenge for future yield progress. Through phenotypic characterization of Pioneer Hi-Bred ERA hybrids in the USA, we determine that improvements in KW have been predominantly related to an extended kernel-filling duration. Likewise, crop improvement has conferred on modern hybrids greater KW plasticity, expressed as a better ability to respond to changes in assimilate availability. Our analysis of past trends and current state of development helps to identify candidate targets for future improvements in maize.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 13, 2023
  2. Abstract Efficient, more accurate reporting of maize ( Zea mays L.) phenology, crop condition, and progress is crucial for agronomists and policy makers. Integration of satellite imagery with machine learning models has shown great potential to improve crop classification and facilitate in-season phenological reports. However, crop phenology classification precision must be substantially improved to transform data into actionable management decisions for farmers and agronomists. An integrated approach utilizing ground truth field data for maize crop phenology (2013–2018 seasons), satellite imagery (Landsat 8), and weather data was explored with the following objectives: (i) model training and validation—identify the best combination of spectral bands, vegetation indices (VIs), weather parameters, geolocation, and ground truth data, resulting in a model with the highest accuracy across years at each season segment (step one) and (ii) model testing—post-selection model performance evaluation for each phenology class with unseen data (hold-out cross-validation) (step two). The best model performance for classifying maize phenology was documented when VIs (NDVI, EVI, GCVI, NDWI, GVMI) and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) were used as input variables. This study supports the integration of field ground truth, satellite imagery, and weather data to classify maize crop phenology, thereby facilitating foundational decision making and agricultural interventionsmore »for the different members of the agricultural chain.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022