The regeneration potential of pearl millet, a crop which is of vital importance for farmers in semi-arid tropical regions, was evaluated in a 12 × 12 line × tester cross involving six male sterile (A) lines from five systems of cytoplasmic-genic male sterility, namely two male sterile lines from system A1 (MS81A1, MS8A1), and one each from A2 (Pb313A2), A3 (Pb402A3), A4 (MS81A4) and A5 (MS81A5), the six corresponding maintainer (B) lines 81B1, 8B1, Pb313B2, Pb402B3, 81B4and 81B5, and twelve restorer (R) lines, namely H90/4-5, H77/833-2, G73-107, CSSC46-2, 77/245, 78/711, 77/273, ICR 161, ISK48, 77/28-2, 77/180 and Raj 42. The 24 parents and 144 crosses were grown separately in contiguous blocks in a randomized block design with two replications in three treatments each in 2000 and 2001 at the Research Farm, Bajra Section, Department of Plant Breeding, CCS HAU, Hisar. The plot size was 2.5 m × 0.45 m with 10 cm intra-row spacing. The genotypes (A lines, B lines, R lines, A × R crosses, B × R crosses), sowing dates, years, year × sowing date and genotype × treatment interactions (direct and reciprocal) exhibited significant differences. The comparison of mean performance of the early-sown non-ratooned crop vs. ratooned (cut, regenerated) vs. late-sown unratooned crop treatments revealed that both the grain and dry fodder yields and the major yield-contributing characters exhibited little reduction in the ratoon crop, while the total tillers at maturity and the effective tillers increased in the ratoon crop in comparison to the direct-sown crop. Additional green fodder yields of 189.63 g and 144.02 g per plant, harvested 40 days after sowing (DAS) in the ratoon crops in 2000 and 2001, respectively, and similar grain and dry fodder yields emphasized the utility of cutting and regeneration in pearl millet. The ratooning ability of genotypes, assessed from the ratio of the performance of various characters in ratoon and early and late sown unratooned crops for yield and major yield components was high for a number of lines, testers and hybrids. Most of the hybrids involved one or two parents with good regeneration potential. Sufficient genetic variability was observed for regeneration and ratooning ability, which was found to be under genetic control, suggesting that regeneration potential could be incorporated in genotypes with high yield. A base population developed from promising parents and crosses can be improved by cyclic breeding.
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