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.
KSDTV-01, which was released two years ago after trials, has proved to do well most South Eastern regions such as Machakos, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kitui, Tana River, among others.
Lupin seeds mixed with maize offers cheaper dairy feeds and increases milk yields
Low maize prices hurting farmers as harvesting season starts
Kenyan Parliament moves proposal to reduce maize, wheat and cassava flour prices
Njuguna Mwaniki, an agronomist at Kenya Seed Company
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 kilograms. A two kilo pack costs Sh360 in agro-vets and other farm input outlets, he said.
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 shall also smoother weeds, therefore, reducing soil disturbance,” the agronomist said.
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 through the growing period of about six months for best results.
In regions where rain is sufficient, for instance the North Rift and Western Kenya, one acre can yield 35 to 40 bags or more.