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Rationally higher population density is crucial for seeking a balance that meets lodging resistance and maximizes seed yield in mechanized direct-seeded winter canola. In this study, a split-plot experiment with two cultivars (Huayouza9 and Zhongshuang11) and eleven planting densities (12–105 plants m-2) was conducted in a two-season field experiment to evaluate the high planting density in this cropping system and improve its production efficiency. Seed yield noticeably increased in planting density up to 80 plants m-2 in Zhongshuang11 (2187 kg hm-2) and 60 plants m-2 in Huayouza9 (2943 kg hm-2). The seed yield of Huayouza9 did not differ significantly from the local target seed yield. Higher plant density curtailed the luxurious vegetative growth of individual canola plants at the density of no less than 60–80 plants m-2, and high seed yield was derived from the increased ratio of main raceme and branch seed weight in winter canola. An increase in plant densities contributed to the reinforced sunlight interception at the pod-filling stage, providing a larger canopy photosynthetic area for the rapid growth of more canola pods at higher densities (60–105 plants m-2). Lodging resistance and breaking resistance decreased sharply with the plant density increasing from 12 to 60 plants m-2 while remaining almost steady as it further increased from 60 to 105 plants m-2 for Huayouza9 and Zhongshuang11. Hence, the population density of 60 plants m-2 reached a balance between lodging resistance and maximized seed yield in mechanized direct-seeded winter canola in China.
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