The present invention provides compositions and methods for modulating the reproductive transition in plants, such as grasses (e.g., maize). In particular, the invention provides methods for enhancing agronomic properties in plants by modulating expression of GRMZM2G171650 (zmm22) or homologs thereof. Modulation of expression of one or more additional genes which affect reproductive transition such as zaglI, in conjunction with such modulation of expression is also contemplated. Nucleic acid constructs for down-regulation of GRMZM2G171650 are also contemplated, as are transgenic plants, and products produced therefrom, that demonstrate altered development such as extended flowering time and display associated phenotypes such as enhanced yield of vegetative biomass, improved digestibility, and increased disease resistance. Plants described herein may be used, for example, as improved forage or feed crops or in biofuel production.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with government support under DE-FC02-07ER64494 awarded by the US Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.