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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Yield stability and lower susceptibility to abiotic stresses of improved open-pollinated and hybrid maize cultivars

Lana, Marcos A.; Eulenstein, Frank; Schlindwein, Sandro L.; Graef, Frieder; Sieber, Stefan; Bittencourt, Henrique von Hertwig


Maize is one of the world's most important cereals, cultivated in a wide range of environments. Besides the importance of maize and the gains in yield from selection schemes, commercial breeding drastically reduced the number of cultivars of this crop. Current common sense states that hybrids, when compared to open-pollinated cultivars, are a better adaptation strategy to cope with the impacts of climate change. However, the performance and resilience of cultivars with different levels of improvement are still not explored in this context. Four cultivars-a commercial hybrid, one commercially improved open-pollinated, one improved open-pollinated derived from participatory breeding, and one from a farmer's selection-were tested using the CERES-Maize crop model. Field experiments conducted in Brazil were used for calibration and evaluation. Synthetic scenarios of climate change resulted from the application of the incremental method on historical series of observations (30 years), with temperature increments ranging from +0.5 up to +3.0 degrees C and precipitation changes from -30 up to +30%. Planting dates consisted in nine dates (August 1-December 1, each 15 days). Results demonstrate that the model could mimic the phenology and yield of two improved open-pollinated cultivars (MPA01 and Fortuna) and the hybrid (AS1548). One open-pollinated cultivar could not be validated due to its high phenotypic variability. Yield response surfaces showed distinct impacts among cultivars, with improved open-pollinated cultivar MPA01 having a higher yield stability when compared to the hybrid. Early planting dates produced lower yields with higher risk of crop failure for all cultivars. Late planting dates produced higher yields with higher failure risk. Considering risk and yield, the best planting window for all cultivars and scenarios is between September and October. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that improved open-pollinated cultivars are equivalent or more resilient than hybrids to yield changes under different scenarios of abiotic stresses.


Crop model; Corn; DSSAT; Local cultivars; Yield; Model calibration; Climate change; Adaptation strategy; Zea mays

Published in

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
2017, Volume: 37, number: 4, article number: 30

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

    More information

    Correction in: Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2017, Volume: 37, Issue: 4, Article Number: 34, DOI: 10.1007/s13593-017-0447-5

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