The stalk of a maize plant may directly interfere in productivity, due to its storage capacity for photo-assimilates and transport capacity of water and nutrients to all parts of the plant. Thus, the aim of this study was to quantify the associations between agronomical and anatomical characters of the maize stalk, for possible use selection in the early stage of breeding program. The field experiment was conducted in the counties of Jaboticabal, SÃ£o Paulo, and Campo Alegre, GoiÃ¡s, both in Brazil, during 2009/2010 crop and 2010 final crop. Thirteen synthetic maize populations from the Agricultural and Veterinarian Science Faculty were used. The experimental design was randomized complete blocks with three replicates and plots with four lines of five meters, being the two central lines considered the useful plot. The agronomical characters considered were: plant height, height at the ear insertion, relative position of the ear, lodging, plant breakage and grain yield, and the anatomical characters were: areas of the xylem, phloem and vascular bundles and itâ€™s vascular bundles number. In the genotypic correlation analysis, significant associations were observed between number of vascular bundles and plant height, and strong association by the Factor analysis among number of vascular bundles, plant height and ear heights. These analyses demonstrate the possibility of indirect selection of agronomical characters at the earlier stage of plant development using stalk anatomical characters.
Keywords: Characters association, correlated characters, multivariate analysis, Zea mays.