Maize is an important staple food for most Ethiopians, but the national average productivity of maize is below that of the world. Development and cultivation of high yielding maize hybrids can improve maize productivity and production. Having information on combining ability and heterosis of maize inbred lines is important for the development of high yielding maize hybrids. The objectives of this study were to identify good hybrids based on grain yield and yield related traits, to estimate the general combining ability (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA). Thirteen inbred lines were crossed in 2017 with two line testers using a line by tester mating design. The resulting 26 crosses were evaluated in a randomized incomplete block design (RCBD) with three replications during the main rainy seasons between June and November, 2018 at Bako, Ethiopia. In addition, the 13 parental lines including the two tester lines were evaluated using RCBD with three replications in a separate trial. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that mean squares due to crosses were highly significant (P≤0.01) for most of the traits studied, except ear aspect. Also mean square due to line was significantly different (P < 0.01 or P < 0.05) in all studied traits except days to anthesis (AD) and ear aspect (EA). The overall mean grain yields (GY) of the hybrids were 6.32 t/ha ranging from 5.21 to 8.19 t/ha. L7 had the lowest negative GCA for grain yield whereas L6 had the highest positive GCA. Among the crosses with high positive SCA, estimates showed high mean grain yield, which implied good correspondence between SCA effects and mean GY. The result obtained in this study could be useful to design for developing high yielding hybrids and synthetics adapted to the mid altitude sub humid agro ecologies of Ethiopia.
Key words: Grain yield, maize inbred lines, line by tester, general combining ability, specific combining ability.
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