In the semi-arid zones of Uganda, pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum
(L.) R. Br.) is mainly grown for food and income; but rust (Puccinia substriata var indica
(L.) R. Br.) is the main foliar constraint lowering yield. The objective of the study was to genetically improve grain yield and rust resistance of two locally adapted populations (Lam and Omoda), through two cycles of modified phenotypic S1
progeny recurrent selection. Treatments included three cycles of two locally adapted pearl millet populations, evaluated at three locations. Significant net genetic gain for grain yield (72 and 36%) were achieved in Lam and Omoda populations, respectively. This led to grain yield of 1,047 from 611 kg ha-1
in Lam population and 943 from 693 kg ha-1
in Omoda population. Significant improvement in rust resistance was achieved in the two populations, with a net genetic gain of -55 and -71% in Lam and Omoda populations, respectively. Rust severity reduced from 30 to 14% in Lam population and from 57 to 17% in Omoda population. Net positive genetic gains of 68 and 8% were also achieved for 1000-grain weight in Lam and Omoda, respectively. Traits with a net negative genetic gain in both populations were days to 50% flowering, days to 50% anthesis, days to 50% physiological maturity, flower-anthesis interval, plant height and leaf area.