Food security continues to be affected by global climatic changes which include increase of drought stress. A sustainable solution is to develop crop cultivars that are tolerant to climatic stresses. Among all crops cassava has a high potential to mitigate hunger. A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the performance of 79 cassava (Manihot esculenta) varieties under drought stress. The parameters evaluated were fresh storage root weight (SRFW), number of storage roots (NSR), above ground weight (AGW), plant height (PH), harvest index (HI) and leaf retention (LR). Results showed significant variations among varieties for most traits. Under stressed treatment, positive correlation was expressed between SRFW and NSR (0.373**), AGW (0.301**) and HI (0.560**). The HI and AGW expressed negative significant correlations-0.398**. Under non-stressed treatment, SRFW had a positive and significant with all the traits NSR (0.434**), AGW (0.377**), PH (0.102*), HI (0.437**) and LR (0.184**). There was negative significant correlations between HI and AGW (-0.482**). SRFW was used as a primary trait to select best performing genotypes. Most of the drought tolerant varieties expressed higher HI, NSR and AGW; hence, termed as target traits in selecting drought tolerance in cassava
Key words: Phenotype, cassava (Manihot esculenta), drought stress, traits, Kiboko.
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