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The plant height and the height of the main ear were studied over two years in twelve single cross maize hybrids sown at three different plant densities (45, 65 and 85 thousand plants/ha) at five locations in Hungary (Keszthely, Gönc, Gyöngyös, Sopronhorpács, Martonvásár). The results revealed that plant height and the height of the main ear are important variety traits and are in close correlation with each other. It was found that the hybrids grew the tallest when the genetic distance between the parental components was greatest (Mv 4, Mv 5). The height of the main ear was also the greatest in these hybrids, and the degree of heterosis was highest (193% for plant height, 194% for the height of the main ear). The shortest hybrids were those developed between related lines (Mv 7, Mv 11). In this case the heterosis effect was the lowest for both plant height (128%) and the height of the main ear (144%). The ratio of the height of the main ear to the plant height was stable, showing little variation between the hybrids (37–44%). As maize is of tropical origin it grows best in a humid, warm, sunny climate. Among the locations tested, the Keszthely site gave the best approximation to these conditions, and it was here that the maize grew tallest. The dry, warm weather in Gyöngyös stunted the development of the plants, which were the shortest at this location. Plant density had an influence on the plant size. The plants were shortest when sown at a plant density of 45,000 plants/ha, and the main ears were situated the lowest in this case. At all the locations the plant and main ear height rose when the plant density was increased to 65,000 plants/ha. At two sites (Gönc and Sopronhorpács) the plants attained their maximum height at the greatest plant density (85,000 plants/ha). In Keszthely there was no significant difference between these two characters at plant densities of 65 and 85 thousand plants/ha, while in Gyöngyös and Martonvásár the greatest plant density led to a decrease in the plant and main ear height. The year had a considerable effect on the characters tested.

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