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Selection of superior genotypes and measuring heritability are some of the basic objectives of plant breeding. For this purpose, plant breeders grow crops across environments. Understanding the pattern of response across environments is an integral component of selection of superior and stable genotypes. The objective of this study was to improve selection strategies in barley breeding of Ethiopia through modeling spatial field trend. A set of multi-environment trials (MET) data from the national variety trial series conducted over four years, was taken from the Ethiopian Barley Breeding Programme, spanning stages from early generation to national variety trial testing for yield, was used in this study. The trials were analysed in a linear mixed model framework. Then, fitting a one-stage model for MET data, including a correlated spatial process for field trend within each trial, and combining a factor analytic (FA) model for genotype by environment interaction was conducted. The genetic correlations from this MET analysis were then used to cluster the environments based on their similarity. Performance of genotypes across these environmental clusters indicate broad (Bekoji-2005 and Bekoji-2004) and specific adaptation (Sgonder-2007 and Sgonder-2006) of genotype to certain types of environments. In addition, analysis of this historical MET data shed light on how breeding programme design can be improved to capture responses across the target population of environments, as it can inform the adequacy of the current number of barley grown areas in Ethiopia and the improvement in measuring heritability.
Key words: Barley MET, heritability, linear mixed model