Popcorn adapted to Spanish conditions could be an interesting and profitable alternative to field corn. However, little is known about breeding popcorn germplasm for adaptation to Spain. Sesamia nonagrioides Lefèvbre is the main insect pest affecting popcorn quality and yield under Spanish growing conditions. The objectives of the study were the search for sources of resistance to S. nonagrioides among popcorn germplasm and to study the genetics of the resistance to S. nonagrioides attack. Eight breeding populations along with a five-inbred line diallel and two popcorn commercial checks were evaluated under S. nonagrioides infestation in 2 yr. Significant differences were found among general combining ability (GCA) effects for days to silking, S. nonagrioides tunnel length, general appearance of the ear, kernel moisture, and yield. Specific combining ability (SCA) effects were found to be significant for yield and ear damage. Therefore, heterotic patterns among popcorn materials should be taken into account to generate new popcorn hybrids that are not only more productive but also have higher kernel quality. Breeding popcorn populations BSP4APC0 and PSPW1C1 could be base germplasms in a breeding program for obtaining parental inbreds of healthy kernel popcorn hybrids. New inbred lines could be generated from the cross BP1 × BP2 that would have improved GCA and SCA effects for S. nonagrioides resistance when crossed to South American inbreds.
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Vol. 98 • No. 5