Effect of Moisture Stress on the Growth Characteristics and Yield Performance of Inbred Maize Lines
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Drought is one on the major factors constraining maize production. Most African maize varieties are susceptible to drought, majority of farmers are poor and cannot afford irrigation systems in order to overcome the problem. This study was undertaken to compare the performance of maize inbred lines when subjected to moisture stress at 6 weeks after planting (WAP) and at anthesis (50% flowering). The study was carried out with the general objective of improving the productivity of maize by developing varieties which are tolerant to moisture stress. The specific objective of the study was to determine the effect of occurrence of moisture stress at different stages of growth on the growth and yield parameters of maize inbred lines. The inbred lines were planted in a completely randomized design (CRD) at National Crops Resource Research Institute under a rain shed. Three treatments under factorial arrangement were used and replicated two times. The treatments comprised a control plot where no moisture stress was introduced (T1), a plot where moisture stress was introduced at 6 WAP (T2) and a plot where moisture stress was introduced at anthesis (T3). Growth parameters that were evaluated include plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, days to flowering and days to physiological maturity. Yield parameters that were evaluated include number of grains per cob, weight of five grains, cob height and grains per row. The data was analyzed using Genstat Statistical package. Results showed that moisture stress caused significant (P<0.05) differences in all the growth parameters except days to anthesis and days to silking. Moisture stress caused a reduction in plant height, number of leaves, leaf area and days to physiological maturity. Moisture stress significantly (P<0.05) affected all the yield parameters and consequently caused a lot of grain yield losses when it occurred at 6 WAP. Based on the results it was concluded that, exposure of inbred lines to moisture stress at 6 WAP and at anthesis (50% flowering) significantly affects the growth characteristics and yield attributes of inbred lines. It was therefore recommended that whenever possible, irrigation of maize fields should be done if drought strikes at about 6 WAP and at anthesis, since the occurrence of moisture stress at these growth stages causes heavy yield losses. Also the in-bred lines CKDHL1700970, CKLI5645 and CKLT10348 that showed some degree of moisture stress (drought) tolerance should be used for breeding purposes to develop drought resistant varieties/hybrids.