Variability for growth and yield traits in single cross hybrids of maize (Zea mays L.)
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Sixteen single-cross hybrids of maize were evaluated in a randomized complete block design with three replications to investigate genetic variability and correlation among growth and yield traits at Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal from March 13 to September 05, 2021. The hybrids were grouped into four clusters using Euclidean Average Linkage method. The cluster analysis showed the presence of genetic variability in the evaluated hybrids. The maximum distance between cluster centroids (194.28) was found between cluster 2 and cluster 4, indicating genetic dissimilarity. Grain yield had the maximum values of phenotypic coefficient of variation (PCV) (35.02%), followed by ear height (17.82%) and plant height (12.22%). Similarly, grain yield had the maximum values of genotypic coefficient of variation (GCV) (26.24%) followed by the number of kernel rows/cob (8.77%) and days to 50% silking (8.72%). Days to 50% silking and days to 50% tasseling had the highest values of heritability (86%) followed by cob diameter (84%) and no. of kernel rows in cob (68%). The leaf area per plant had the maximum values of genetic advance (GA) (74.87 cm2), followed by plant height (27.80 cm) and days to 50% silking (9.66 days). Similarly, the maximum values of genetic advance as percent of the mean (GAM) was found for grain yield (40.50%) followed by days to 50% silking (16.70%) and days to 50% tasseling (16.17%). The hybrids namely KWM-91 × KWM-93 produced the maximum values of grain yield (9.99 t ha–1) followed by KWM-93 × KWM-91 (9.63 t ha–1) and KWM-92 × KWM-93 (9.40 t ha–1). Grain yield showed positive and significant phenotypic correlation with days to 50% silking (r = 0.41), days to 50% tasseling (r = 0.39), plant height (r = 0.37), cob diameter (r = 0.49) and the number of kernel rows in cob (r = 0.38). Therefore, utilization of present genetic variability along with indirect selection for traits having significant association with grain yield, high heritability and GAM could aid in the improvement of maize productivity.