Genetic Improvement in Quality, Grain Yield and Yield Associated Traits of Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum var.durum L.) in Ethiopia

Mekuria Dejene

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research


Information about changes associated with advances in crop breeding is essential for understanding yield-limiting factors and developing new strategies for future breeding programmes. Thirty-six durum wheat varieties released since 1966 were evaluated in three replications of the Randomized Complete Design at Debre Zeit and Akaki, Ethiopia during the 2016 cropping season to estimate the amount of genetic gain made over time in grain yield potential, yield-associated traits and in protein content. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences among varieties for all 16 quantitative traits, protein content and protein harvest in Kg ha-1 at each of the locations. Grain yield varied between 1.66t ha-1 for Arendato released in 1966 to 3.90t ha-1 for Megenagna released in 2012 with mean of 2.952t ha-1 at Debre Zeit. At Akaki yield range was between 2.45 and 5.04t ha-1 with mean of 3.992t ha-1. 25 varieties surpassed Arendato (3.754t ha-1) at this location. In the combined ANOVA significant difference between the varieties was observed only for spike length, spikelets spike-1, grains spikelet, grains spike-1, plant height, days to flowering, thousand grain weight and hectoliter weight. Varieties specifically adapted to only one of the locations, widely adapted varieties and varieties not adapted to any of the locations were identified. Regression analysis revealed that grain yield has increased by 22kg ha-1 year-1 since 1966; an increase of 40.6% over yield in 1966. This was accompanied with a significant decline of 11.4% in spike length, 6.7% in spikelets spike-1, 17.9% in protein content and 31.2% in protein yield ha-1 and a significant increase of 41.1% in grains spikelet-1, 32.9% in number of grains spike-1, 22.3% in thousand grain weight, 17.8% in grain filling period, 23.9% in seed growth rate, 40.1% in grain yield production rate, 7.9% in harvest index.