Drought tolerant maize can yield 20 bags in three months

Low rainfall region farmers can now harvest up to 20 bags of 90 kg maize per acre in less than three months by planting the new drought tolerant variety from the Kenya Seed Company Limited.

Njuguna Mwaniki, an agronomist of the company, said the variety needs water during germination and flowering stages.

It performs better than most katumani hybrids for dry regions, which take about four months to mature.

A farmer can harvest 20 90-kg bags in 70-90 days, a period with minimum showers.

“Current drought tolerant varieties, including those from our company, give between 10 and 15 bags on good seasons. But the KSDTV-01 has been improved to perform better and within a short period to avoid drought stress,” Mwaniki said.

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KSDTV-01, which was released early this year after trials, has proved to do well most South Eastern regions such as Machakos, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kitui, Tana River, among others.

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These regions are classified under semi arid regions, which receive less than 500mm of rainfall per annum.

To plant in one acre, a farmer requires 10 kilogrammes. A two kilo pack costs Sh360 in agrovets and other farm input outlets, he said.

Two cobs per stalk

This short hybrid can give two or more cobs per single stock-even with light showers of rain during flowering.

“Immediately after germination, farmers can keep the soil moist with mulch, to hasten growth during the three months. The dead matter will also smoother weeds, therefore, reducing soil disturbance,” the agronomist said.

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Other regions

Most farmers in the named regions rely on traditional drought tolerant crops such as cassava and pumpkins for food. More others grow mangoes as a cash crop.

Maize is a mid-season crop, which requires a lot of rain almost throught the growing period of about six months for best results.

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In regions where rain is sufficient, for instance the North Rift and Western Kenya, one acre can yield 35 to 40 bags or more.

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