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  • Author or Editor: T.E. Dickert x
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Heterosis in corn (Zea mays L.) usually results in earlier flowering, larger plants, and increased yield. In extremely early sweet corn the effect of heterosis on flowering time may be reduced or eliminated due to developmental and physiological requirements for vegetative growth before the transition to reproductive phase. The objective of this study was to determine the level of heterosis and the combining ability for flowering time and other agronomic traits in a diallel cross of six very early open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars. The diallel was grown in 1995 and 1996. Hybrids and parents averaged over hybrids differed for silk date, plant height, ear height, 10-ear weight, ear length, and 100-kernel weight but did not differ for row number and ear width. Heterosis for silk date was significant, but the difference between parents and hybrids was very small, 0.5 day. No hybrids were earlier than the earliest parent, and average midparent heterosis was -0.8%. In contrast midparent heterosis was significant and relatively high for 100-kernel weight (10.0%), ear length (12.9%), ear height (8.6%), plant height (9.0%), and 10-ear weight (28.2%). The traits with low heterosis had very high general combining ability/specific combining ability ratios while these ratios were much smaller in traits with high heterosis. Heterosis for many of the traits, including 10-ear weight, was higher than published values. Conversely, heterosis for flowering time was small, compared to other traits in this study and to published values for silk date, indicating that this extremely early germplasm may be at or near the limit for flowering time under the photoperiod and temperatures typical of summer in Madison, Wis. (43.05°N, 89.31°W).

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