Maize (Zea mays L.) is the world leading crop and in 2018, total world production was 1.15 billion tones. Participatory variety selection (PVS) was initiated to facilitate identification of farmers’ ideal plant varieties, as well as enhancing adoption of elite varieties. In Ethiopia, various research activities were conducted on maize through participatory variety selection. However, those varieties are not tested in the present study area and the best variety not yet recommended. Therefore, this study was conducted with the objectives to select and recommend maize varieties that meet farmers’ demand and show better agronomic performance in Dera district and similar agro-ecologies and to assess and identify the most important farmers’ varietal selection criteria to be considered in maize breeding program.The field experiment was conducted in Dera district of South Gondar zone on five testing sites. Improved hybrid maize varieties including BH-540, BH-546, BH-547 and BH-548 (QPM) were evaluated in randomized complete block design with three replications. The combined analysis of variance revealed high significant differences among maize varieties for all traits studied except for harvest index. The highest grain yield was recorded by variety BH-546 with 5695.1 kg/ha and followed by BH-548 and BH-547 with4378.7 and 4004.2 kg/ha grain yield respectively. The farmer’s criteria over location were somewhat similar across varieties and more important in some of the parameters like grain yield, earliness, cob size, biomass yield and overall appearance of the varieties. Generally participatory variety selection was very effective for identifying appropriate variety and considering farmer’s selection criteria in maize breeding program for the improvement of adoption rate and acceptance level of new varieties.
Keywords: Grain yield, Participatory variety selection, selection criteria, farmers, maize