Identification of bread wheat genotypes with superior grain yield and agronomic traits through evaluation under rust epiphytotic conditions in Kenya
Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars adapted to specific environments and resistant to prevalent pathogens are preferred for obtaining high yield. This study aimed to identify wheat genotypes with superior grain yield (GY) and yield associated traits from 168 genotypes of International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s 13th Stem Rust Resistance Screening Nursery evaluated over two seasons during 2019 and 2020 under high disease pressure of both stem rust (SR) and yellow rust (YR) in a 21 × 8 α-lattice design with 3 replications in Kenya. Effects due to seasons were significant for YRAud, SRAud, 1000-kernel weight (TKW), days to heading (DH), plant height (PH) and number of spikelets spike−1 (SS), while genotypes and genotypes × season interaction effects were significant for all traits except number of kernels spike−1. Respectively, heritability values of 0.95, 0.93, 0.87, 0.86, 0.77 and 0.75 were observed for area under disease progress curve for SR (SRAud), YR (YRAud), TKW, DH, biomass (BM) and GY. Path analysis showed positive direct effects on GY via PH, SS, BM, and TKW. Biplot analysis identified 16 genotypes with superior desirable traits GY, BM and harvest index. The SR contributed the highest reduction in GY and TKW while YR contributed the most reduction in BM. These identified genotypes with superior GY combined with adequate resistance to both SR and YR are potentially valuable resources for improvement of locally adapted wheat cultivars.