The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization has released a new green gram variety suitable for dry areas with potential yields of up to 1500kg per hectare an increase of 87.5 per cent from the existing varieties.
The new variety matures within a two months’ period and can fight breast cancer, control blood pressure, weight and diabetes and comes at a time when 5.6 per cent of Kenyans have been affected by these lifestyle diseases.
The Katumani mung bean 26 can do well in the drier areas of Mwingi, Tharaka, Mbeere, Makueni, Kitui and lower Machakos because the crop does well in well drained sandy loam soils.
To plant the variety, the field should be prepared by using a hoe, oxen or a tractor depending on the farmer’s capability. Early panting cab be done when a rainfall of 30mm has been received.
When using oxen for instance, the seeds should be placed at the side of the furrow at a spacing of 45cm between rows and 15cm between plants at a seed rate of 10 to 15 kilos per acre. Two seeds should be planted per hill with the depth of planting kept at four to five centimeters.
According to researchers who developed the new variety, mung beans as it is called, it is not necessary to apply nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer unless in areas where the soils are highly eroded and very deficient of the nutrients. In case of such, a dose of 10 to 15 kilos per hectare of nitrogen and 20 to 25 kilos per hectare of triple super phosphate may be applied.
The first weeding should be done two weeks after germination of the seeds and the second one just before the plants produce flowers.
There are various pests which can affect this variety such as aphids, thrips, pod sucking bugs and bruchids.
To control them apply duduthrin or super actellic at the rate if 50g per quarter an acre and alsoi by following the manufacturers’ recommended rates.
The diseases which may affect the variety include powdery mildew which is prevalent during the long rains and yellow mosaic virus which occurs in both long and short rains.
Benomyl and copper oxychloride is used to control the diseases.
The crop should be harvested when 95 per cent of the pods have turned black. When a farmer notices that the pods may have matured unevenly, he or she can uproot the entire plant and dry in the sun for two to three days before threshing.
Drying helps the grains remain weevil free but four to six kilos of ash or neem leaves can be added to the grain to preserve it. Alternative 50g of super actellic can be added to a 90kg bag.
Seeds can be obtained at the Kenya Seed Company or KALRO offices in Kitale.