Development of maize single cross hybrids for tolerance to low phosphorus
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Low available phosphorus (P) is one of the major hindrances to maize (Zea mays L.) productivity in acid soils. The objectives of this study were to: (1) develop P-efficient maize inbred lines, (2) develop single cross hybrids from the P-efficient inbred lines, and (3) determine their response to P application in the P-deficient acid soils of western Kenya. Ninety-eight inbred lines and 49 single crosses were developed and screened at P-deficient (2.0 to 2.2 mg P/kg soil) soils of Sega and Bumala. Mean grain yield (GY) for the hybrids was 75.3% higher with P-fertilizer than without P for the same hybrids. Thirty-three percent (33%) of these hybrids were inefficient but responsive to P application, 27% were efficient and none responsive, only 13% were efficient and responsive, while the rest were inefficient and non-responsive. GY was positively correlated (r = 0.57**) with plant height (PH) and ear height (EH) (r = 0.60**) and PH was correlated with EH (r = 0.86***). This study has developed and identified P-efficient maize germplasm that can be utilized directly or in developing other hybrids for use in acid soils of western Kenya and in other acid soils where P is limiting.