ABSTRACT A field experiment was carried out in a coastal savannah agro-ecological zone of Ghana to assess the dynamics of stored soil water and actual evapotranspiration (AET) of three maize genotypes (Obatanpa, Mamaba, and Golden Crystal) grown under rainfed conditions. Access tubes were installed to a depth of 120 cm for soil water content monitoring using a neutron probe meter. The soil water balance model of plant root zone was used to estimate AET at different crop growth stages. On average, the rate of AET for Obatanpa, Mamaba, and Golden Crystal maize genotypes were estimated as 4.32, 4.46, and 3.72 mm·day–1, respectively, for the major cropping season as against corresponding values of 3.88, 4.00 and 3.72 mm day–1 for the minor cropping season. Mamaba had higher values of AET from 42 DAE (days after emergence) to 84 DAE during the minor cropping season while it had low AET values during the major cropping season. The positive balance in stored soil water in the root zone of Obatanpa was the highest from 42 DAE to 84 DAE followed by Mamaba and Golden Crystal during the major cropping season. Mamaba, on the other hand, had the highest AET from 70 DAE to 84 DAE. Obatanpa used 55.6% of stored soil water for AET, which was the highest among the maize genotypes during the major cropping season. Golden Crystal and Mamaba followed with 53.3% and 51.5%. For the minor cropping season, 48.5% of stored soil water was used by Mamaba for AET, followed by Obatanpa, (46.4%) and Golden Crystal (43.2%). A strong positive significant (p ≤ 0.05) linear correlation existed between AET and precipitation with the coefficient of determination (R2) being 69.2 for Obatanpa, 88.5 for Mamaba and 82.8 for Golden Crystal for the major cropping season. Higher R2 values (98.0, for Obatanpa, 94.1 for Mamaba and 98.9 for Golden Crystal) were, however, obtained for the minor cropping season. Additionally, a strong linear relationship was found between AET and precipitation, suggesting the need to formulate strategies for enhancing effective use of precipitation in sustained rainfed maize production.
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