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Performance of landraces, exotic elite populations and their crosses in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in drought and non-drought conditions

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The crop cultivars targeted for drought prone areas need to combine drought tolerance and high yield. The present study was conducted to assess the performance of three selected pearl millet landraces, four exotic elite populations and their 12 crosses. They were evaluated for yield, yield components and a drought susceptibility index that was calculated using yield data from drought and non-drought environments. In the non-drought season, the exotic populations had significantly higher grain yield than landraces. However, in the severe drought season, the landraces produced significantly greater biomass, grain and stover yields than elite populations. There was a strong relation between panicle size and ability to produce panicles and delay in flowering under severe stress. The biomass and stover yield of crosses was significantly better than parental populations under both drought stress and near-optimum conditions. The elite populations were most sensitive to drought while crosses were as drought tolerant as landraces because they combined larger panicle size of exotics and lesser delay in flowering of landraces. The results indicated that it is possible to combine drought adaptation with high yield potential through hybridization between adapted landraces and elite genetic materials.
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Keywords: Pearl millet; adaptation; drought stress; exotic germplasm; landraces

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2008

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