Genetic Gain in Yield Potential and Related Traits of Finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn] in Ethiopia
Background: Genetic gains made on crop improvement are important for breeders to develop new crop varieties. However, information on the hitherto genetic gains made in the improvement of finger millet is scant and no assessment of this trait has been done on improved finger millet varieties in Ethiopia.
Objective: A field experiment was conducted to estimate the genetic gain in yield and related traits of finger millet varieties released in Ethiopia between 1999 and 2019.
Materials and Methods: Twenty finger millet varieties were evaluated in 2019/20 main cropping season at Adet and Finoteselam research sites using a randomized complete block design with three replications. Data were collected both on plot and plant basis, and then subjected to variance, correlation and stepwise regression analysis.
Results: The results revealed significant differences among the varieties and locations for almost all traits. The overall increases in grain yield over the oldest varieties were 449.03 kg ha–1 (22.49%) and 390.95 kg ha–1 (19.22%) at Adet and Finoteselam, respectively. The estimated annual and relative genetic gain was 30.88 kg ha–1 year–1 and 1.55% year–1 at Adet and 24.39 kg ha–1 year–1 and 1.2% year–1 at Finoteselam. Biomass yield and harvest index together contributed 99.74% and 99.42% of the variation in grain yield at Adet and Finoteselam, respectively. In addition, number of tillers plant–1 and ears plant–1 contributed to the change in grain yield as they were highly correlated with year of variety release.
Conclusion: It is concluded that, a substantial gain has been made in grain yield and related traits of hitherto developed finger millet varieties in the country, which is largely attributed to varietal change during the period 1999 to 2019. However, the gain obtained was low as compared to the gain made on other crops and the crop’s potential, suggesting further breeding efforts need to be made in the future as this crop’s genetic potential has not yet been fully exploited.