Ethiopia is the secondary centre of diversity of barley, and has large number accessions preserved in its gene bank. To determine the genetic variability and to assess the associations among morpho-agronomic characters, three hundred twenty Ethiopian barley genotypes were evaluated in 2017 main-season at Holeta Agricultural Research Centre using 20 x16 Alpha Lattice design. The analysis of variance showed that there were significant differences among the genotypes in all traits except for days to emergence, indicating the presence of genotypic variation among the studied genotypes. Out of 320, one hundred twenty three genotypes gave significantly higher yield than the grand mean (2772.45 Kg/ha) with yield advantage of best performing genotypes ranging between 145.98% for genotype Shege to 100.66% for genotype HB-1963. Grain yield, biomass yield and kernels per spike had high phenotypic and genotypic coefficients of variation. The estimates of broad sense heritability and genetic advance were high for days to heading and maturity and thousand kernels weight. Grain yield exhibited positive and highly significant correlations with days to heading and maturity, number kernels per spike, biomass yield, harvest index, thousand kernels and hectolitre weights. Path coefficient analysis revealed that biomass yield followed by seed harvest index had high and positive direct effects on grain yield and negative direct effect was exerted by days to heading and scald disease. Therefore, there is a high possibility of developing new varieties from these genotypes.
Keywords: Barley, character, genetic variability