In the last few years the use of the whole maize plant as fodder has spread throughout Argentina. Due to the lack of selected materials specifically bred for this purpose, grain hybrids are often used. Our aim was to differentiate commercial hybrids through traits related to aptitude for forage production.
The evaluated traits were plant height (PH), weight of ear (WE), weight of stover (WS),% protein in stover (PS) and in ear (PE),% soluble carbohydrates in stover (SCS) and ear (SCE),% digestibility in stover (DS) and ear (DE) in five commercial maize hybrids: Cargill R160 (R160), Semiden 5 (SD5), Funk's Tronador (TRON), Morgan 506 (M506) and Pioneer 3452 (P3452) for a three year period in three environments. The dendrogram obtained from a similitude matrix, using the Manhattan distance coefficient and the UPGMA technique groups R160 with M506 and SD5 with TRON. The four make up a subgroup which is clearly divided from P3452. The analysis of principal components established that PH (0.92), and SD (0.93) are the traits with the greatest discriminatory value in the first component, which explains 46.25% of total variation. The second component explains 23.48%, PS and WS being the most important characters. The third explains 16.87% where WE (0.96) is the principal character. The first component separates out P3452, the hybrid which possesses the highest values of PH and DS, from the rest. The second component groups R160 with M506 and separates them from P3452, TRON and SD5. The first two present the highest PS values. The third component puts M506 at one extreme and R160 at the opposite extreme, this being the hybrid which shows the greatest ear yield. The biochemical characters of the stover, relevant to forage corn, show a higher discriminatory value in the first and second components. In the third component the ear yield, fundamental for grain maize, is the greatest. The analysis concludes that P3452 is the hybrid with the best response to the forage idiotype and the rest of group, principally R160, to the grain idiotype.
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