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Hybrid sunflowers increase farmer output 50% while improving drought resistance

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The entry of new hybrid sunflower varieties is helping increase farmers’ output while improving resistance to drought.

These include the H8998, Hysun33, and Rekord sunflower varieties distributed through Advanta Seeds.

Compared to the more common Kenya Fedha sunflower which gives just 800 kilograms of seeds an acre, these three varieties have a yield potential of 800-1200Kg per acre depending on the crop management and weather.

“Farmers are always looking for a bumper harvest that is why we are seeing more of them seeking out these new varieties in the market,” said Joshua Gitonga, founder of Meru-based sunflower oil maker Rafikipay.

The sunflowers which can grow best in fertile sandy, loam, and clay soil types with pH value of 6 to 7.5 are also drought tolerant. They are hardy, drought-tolerant, and suitable for cultivation in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

They also mature quicker, 105-125 days, compared to 130-135 days taken for Kenya Fedha to mature as well as having a uniform growing pattern.

Importantly, they have a very high oil content of 45-48 per cent with a ‘soft’ seed coat that is thin which allows for easy crushing and low wastage. This makes them sought after by oil seed processors.

These sunflowers also have compatible heads which makes it harder for birds to reach the seeds. These make them resistant to bird attacks sparing farmers from losing millions.

Read more:

Kenya recruiting new army of sunflower farmers

Meru oilseed processor recruiting 1,000 sunflower farmers to plug waning production

Sunflower growers unable to access government-promised seeds

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