Maize Cultivar Performance under Diverse Organic Production Systems

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Huffman, Ryan
Abel, Craig
Pollak, Linda
Goldstein, Walter
Pratt, Richard
Smith, Margaret
Montgomery, Kevin
Grant, Lois
Edwards, Jode
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Scott, M. Paul
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The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Maize (Zea mays L.) performance can vary widely between different production systems. The need for high-performing hybrids for organic systems with wide adaptation to various macroenvironments is becoming increasingly important. The goal of this study was to characterize inbred lines developed by distinct breeding programs for their combining ability and hybrid yield performance across diverse organic environments. Parent lines were selected from five different breeding programs to give a sample of publically available germplasm with potential for use in organic production systems with expired plant variety protection (Ex-PVP) and current commercial inbreds as benchmarks. A North Carolina Design II mating design was used to produce all possible cross combinations between seven lines designated as males and seven lines designated as females. A significantly positive general combining ability for the female inbred UHF134 suggests that it performs well in hybrid combination. Significant general combining ability was not observed for any male inbred line in this study. Several significantly positive specific combining abilities suggest that nonadditive genetic effects play an important role in determining yield in this germplasm. Further analysis revealed that hybrids containing either an Ex-PVP line or a commercial inbred line were on average superior to hybrids containing only inbreds developed by the cooperators of this study. This demonstrates the utility of testing inbreds from diverse sources when developing hybrids for organic production systems.


This article is published as Huffman, R. D., C. A. Abel, L. M. Pollak, W. Goldstein, R. C. Pratt, M. E. Smith, K. Montgomery, L. Grant, J. W. Edwards, and M. P. Scott. 2018. Maize Cultivar Performance under Diverse Organic Production Systems. Crop Sci. 58:1–11. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2017.06.0364.