Genetic progress, adaptability and stability of maize cultivars for value of cultivation and use trials

ABSTRACT. Maize breeding programs conduct multi-environment trials every year to assess the performance of new cultivars in pre-releasing tests. The data are combined across sites and seasons to perform a joint analysis in order to obtain information that will help breeders to select the best cultivars for different environments. Beyond this, it is essential to understand the different factors that can hamper the selection and genetic progress (i.e., genetic variability, selection intensity and genotype-by-environment interactions). In this study, the genetic progress (GP) was estimated and the adaptability and stability of 81 maize genotypes were evaluated in a series of trials for the value of cultivation and use (VCU) between the 2010/11 and 2014/15 growing seasons. The genotypes were composed of open-pollinated varieties, topcross hybrids, intervarietal hybrids, and single, double and three-way cross hybrids and were assessed in 117 environments in the central region of Brazil, from which 22 presented environmental stresses. For grain yield, an annual GP of 331.5 kg ha-1 was observed, thus showing efficiency in the selection of superior cultivars. Additionally, it was observed that some low-cost seed cultivars showed yield potential, adaptability and stability estimates that were compatible with commercial hybrids, thus making them quite attractive for cultivation in environments with or without abiotic stresses.