GENETIC MERIT OF POPCORN LINES AND HYBRIDS FOR MULTIPLE FOLIAR DISEASES AND AGRONOMIC PROPERTIES
Popcorn lines with genetic resistance to foliar diseases allow the production of higher yields at lower costs. Thus, the development of resistant genotypes becomes essential, while the selection efficiency of parents and hybrids depends on the existence of genetic variability and knowledge about the genetic trait control. The objective of this study was to determine the genetic merit of the hybrid lines and genotypes, as well as the reciprocal effect; to draw conclusions on the genetic control of the traits of disease incidence and severity associated with resistance to Exserohilum turcicum, Bipolaris maydis, Puccinia polysora and of the agronomic traits grain yield and popping expansion; and to assess the effects of the trait interrelations on parent and hybrid selection. Fifty-six hybrid combinations (F1 and reciprocal crosses) were evaluated in two growing seasons. A randomized block design with four replications was used. Regardless of the growing season, the non-additive genetic component had the greatest influence on the studied traits, whereas no reciprocal effect was observed. The performance of lines L61, L70 and L76 was good in both growing seasons by increasing the level of multiple disease resistance associated with high gains in GY and PE. The hybrids L61 x L76; L61 x L77; L76 x P1 were the most promising of the tested crosses for cultivation in both seasons, targeting a decrease in the levels of several diseases and higher grain yields and popping expansion.