Evaluation of Argentine maize hybrids and exotic x temperate testcrosses across environments



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Texas A&M University


Maize (Zea mays L.) is grown in a wide range of environments and altitudes worldwide. Maize has transitioned from open pollinated varieties to single cross hybrids over the last century. While maize production and genetic gain has increased, genetic diversity among U.S. maize hybrids has narrowed. Problems, such as insect pressure, diseases, and mycotoxins, present obstacles for breeders. One approach is to use exotic germplasm in breeding programs to provide useful, novel alleles for productivity, grain quality, and disease resistance. Little exotic germplasm has been used, because of lack of agronomic adaptation and problems with lodging, earliness, and tall plants in more temperate areas. Using exotic elite materials and evaluating them in targeted regions might increase success. Objectives of this research were: to characterize and evaluate agronomic adaptation and performance of Argentine commercial hybrids in the U.S., to evaluate semi-exotic testcrosses developed from semi adapted 100% tropical lines and elite U.S. inbred LH195, and to estimate response to aflatoxin contamination of Argentine hybrids and semi-exotic testcrosses under inoculation with Aspergillus flavus. Agronomic data was collected during 2004 in eleven Texas environments for Argentine hybrids, and eight Texas environments for semi-exotic testcrosses. Response to aflatoxin was measured in three southern Texas environments. U.S. commercial hybrids were used as checks. Significant differences among hybrids were observed for most environments and traits. In general, Argentine hybrids yielded lower, had lower 1000 kernel weights, and greater test weights than U.S. hybrids. Hybrids AX889, AX882MG, and AX890MG were competitive with U.S. hybrids for grain yield and were stable across environments. Semi-exotic testcrosses had similar lodging and grain moisture percentages, heavier test weights and competitive grain yields compared with U.S. hybrids. Hybrid TX-LAMA2002-9-2-B/lH195 had the highest overall grain yield mean for semi-exotic testcrosses and yielded better than two U.S. hybrids. Argentine hybrids had lower aflatoxin concentration than U.S. hybrids; several hybrids had less than 50 ng g-1 aflatoxin. Semi-exotic testcrosses had reduced aflatoxin compared to U.S. hybrids, with several hybrids under 35 ng g-1. These elite, exotic materials show promise for breeding programs, with competitiveness for grain yield, kernel traits, and reduced aflatoxin levels.