Drought stress contributes significantly to economic yield losses in finger millet (Eleusine coracana) production. This study evaluated morpho-physiological and agronomic traits among 25 finger millet genotypes for drought tolerance under field conditions. Out of the 25 genotypes, 24 were advanced lines preselected for drought tolerance from ICRISAT, KALRO and Egerton University seed units and one check cultivar P-224. The study was conducted at two drought endemic locations (Koibatek, Baringo County and Soin, Kericho County) in Kenya during 2020 cropping season using 5 × 5 triple Lattice design with three replicates. Results revealed that genotype was significant (P<0.001) for seedling vigour, peduncle length, plant height, number of productive tillers number of fingers and harvest index (P<0.01) and finger length (P<0.05). Location was significant (P<0.001) for plant stand, number of fingers, finger length and days to 50% flowering and peduncle length. The interaction effect between genotype and location was significant (P<0.001) for number of fingers, yield and harvest index. There were significant and positive correlation between ET and HI (r = 0.537***), ET and grain yield (r = 0.611***), root relative water content (RRWC) and HI (r=0.442***). Lines ICFX 1420314-2-1-1-1 (7), KNE 814 X Ex Alupe (P) P8-1-1-1-1 (24) and ICFX 1420415-3-1-1-2 (14) were identified as the most suitable genotypes for drought tolerance based on their superior morpho-physiological traits to withstand soil water deficit with higher grain yield. These identified genotypes can be recommended to farmers and incorporated in breeding programs to improve production in the semi-arid areas.
Key words: Finger millet, drought tolerant, genotypes, morpho-physiological traits, agronomic traits.
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