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Information on response of maize hybrids that are bred for tolerance to drought at flowering when planted under drought at seedling stage is important to identify germplasm that combined tolerance to drought at both stages. It has been reported that maize of different maturity groups responded differently to drought at flowering but no information is available on response of different maturity class to drought at seedling stage. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to evaluate the
response of early and extra-early maize hybrids to drought stress imposed at both seedling and flowering stages. Thirty hybrids which comprised 15 early- and 15 extra-early maize hybrids were evaluated under drought imposed at seedling and at flowering stages. The experiment was laid out in a randomized incomplete block design with three replicates. In the screenhouse, data were collected on seedling aspect, root and shoot length, and leaf shed and total biomass. In the field, data were collected on grain yield and other agronomic traits. Data collected were subjected to analysis of variance to compare hybrid performance and correlation analysis to assess relationship among traits. Results showed that effects of variety and maturity were significant for seedling traits such as total leaf shed, root length, fresh shoot weight, total fresh weight and seedling aspect. Extra-early maturing maize had higher values for seedling aspect, root length, total leaf shed, but lower values for fresh shoot weight, total fresh weight. This indicates differences in the response of maize hybrids in the two maturity groups to drought at seedling stage. It was concluded that early and extra-early maize hybrids responded differently under induced drought stress imposed at both seedling and flowering stages. Two early-maturing and one extra-early maturing hybrids were identified which expressed combined tolerance to drought at both stages.