What to do when selecting maize seed
February 14th, 2014
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Isolate a small portion of land whenever you want to try a new maize variety. Plant and observe it and only go into full production when sure that the variety can do well in your region.


Maize 5Every year, many farmers plant the wrong maize seed varieties, ending up with poor yields for lack of correct information. Persistent advertising and promotion of certain maize seed varieties by seed companies is partly to blame for the problem. Another problem is that farmers usually ask local agrovet shops to sell them the best maize varieties. This approach is not effective because seed stockists will always recommend any variety especially that of stock that is not moving.


Farmers should therefore be very careful when choosing maize seed varieties to plant. The seeds are developed on the basis of altitude, rainfall, type of soil and temperature and other climatic conditions. To meet the needs of farmers in every climatic region, researchers have developed seed varieties that do well in those regions. It is therefore important for farmers to buy seeds that can do well in their geographical regions. It is also important that farmers seek for advice from extension officers, agricultural or research institutions before buying any maize seed.


Before adopting any new seed variety, it is important that farmers isolate a small portion of land, plant the variety and observe its characteristics. Check if the variety is prone to lodging (falling due to wind), if the ears open early before maturity, which allows water and rotting, the yield and any other negative characteristic. When you have established that the variety is good, proceed to large-scale production. We give this advice to caution farmers against buying new seed varieties (which may not have the desired qualities) as may be claimed by seed companies or seed stockists.


Good management of maize through the production phases is important. Low soil fertility, soil acidity, late land preparation and planting, poor weeding and even using the wrong planting methods can contribute to low maize yields.


Maize 6


Below, we provide farmers with some of the new and alternative maize seed varieties:


  1. A.    HIGH ALTITUDE VARIETIES: (Rainfall 1000 – 1500 mm, Altitude 1700 – 2300 m)


 

(i) Variety: ADC 600-23A (Company: Agricultural Development Corporation – ADC)

 


Qualities

● Average yield 43- 68 bags per acre.

● Sweet in taste.

● It does not fall easily (no lodging).

● It produces a double cob.

● It is resistant to rust.

● Resistance to leaf blight.

● Resistant to Grey Leaf Spot.

● Out yields H614D by 43.3%.

Suitable growing areas: Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Keiyo, Marakwet Laikipia, Nakuru, Kisii, Kiambu.

 


(ii)Variety: KH600-14E (Company: Freshco – improved H614D)

 


Qualities

● Average yield 45–50 bags.

● Sweet to taste.

● Flinty shape (not easily attacked by weevils).

● Has excellent husk cover (does not open ears, which causes rotting.

● Tolerant to Grey Leaf spot disease.

● Heavy (like original H614 variety).

● Droops at maturity.

● Outyields original H614D by 13.3%.

● Matures earlier than H614D (by 1 week).

Suitable growing areas: Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Keiyo, Marakwet Laikipia, Nakuru, Kisii, Kiambu.


(iii) Variety: KH 600-15A (Company: East African Seed)

 


Qualities

● Yields 33–47 bags per acre.

● Matures in 145–148 days.

● Has good husk cover.

● Very good standability.

● Out yields 614D by 10.1%.

● Droops (cob faces down) on maturity preventing grain rot.

● Tolerant to GLS, Maize Streak Virus and blights.

● Produces double cobs.

Suitable growing areas: Mt. Elgon slopes, Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, greater Kericho, Taita, Nyeri (upper parts), Laikipia, Lower

Nyandarua.

 


(iv) Variety: KH600–16A (Company: Freshco)

 


Qualities

● Yields 35-50 bags per acre (out yielding H614 D by 16.7%).

● Matures in 140-180 days.

● Very good standability.

● Tolerant top Grey Leaf Spot (GLS), leaf blight.

● Has a good husk cover (will not rot in heavy rains).

● Droops when dry (will not rot in heavy rains).

Suitable growing areas: Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Keiyo, Marakwet, Laikipia, Nakuru, Kisii, Bungoma, Mt Elgon, Kiambu.

 


(v) Variety: 600–15A (Company: East African Seed)

 


Qualities

● Yields 35–45 bags per acre.

● White semi-flint grains.

● Has very strong stalk and does not fall easily (good standability).

● Maize cob droops when dry, reducing rotting.

● Has good husk cover.

Suitable growing areas: Mt. Elgon slopes, Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, greater Kericho, Taita, Nyeri (upper parts), Laikipia, Lower Nyandarua.


(vi) Kenya Seed Company: The most popular seed varieties from the company for high altitude zones include: H614D, H6213, H629 and H628. H6213 can do well under a high level management.


B. MEDIUM ALTITUDE VARIETIES: (Altitude: 1200-1600m Rainfall:800 mm and above)


(i) Variety: WH507 (Company: Western Seed Co)

 


Qualities

● Average yield 35 bags per acre.

● It matures in 4 months (120-135 days)

● Good for green maize (remains green longer).

● It has a big cob.

Suitable growing areas: Western Kenya- Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii, Nyanza Region- Homa Bay, Suba, Migori, Rongo, Siaya, Bondo; South Rift- Tinderet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Sotik, Trans-Mara; Central Province- Muranga, Kiambu, Kirinyaga; Eastern Province-Embu, Meru, Machakos, Kitui, Mwingi etc.


(ii) Variety: KH 500-33A (Company: Freshco)

 


Qualities

● Average yield 35–40 bags per acre.

● Matures in 4 months (120–140 days).

● Good standability.

● Resistant to Maize Streak Virus (MSV) and smut disease.

● Flinty white grain (resists weevil damage) tightly packed.

● Large cob and stalk.

● Good taste as green maize when roasted.

Suitable growing areas: Western Kenya- Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii; Nyanza Region- Homa Bay, Suba, Migori Rongo, Siaya, Bondo, South Rift- Tinderet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Sotik, Trans-Mara; Central Province- Muranga, Kiambu, Kirinyaga; Eastern Province-Embu, Meru, Machakos, Kitui, Mwingi etc.


 

(ii)Variety: WH505 (Company: Western Seed Co)

 


Qualities

● Average yield is 30 bags per acre.

● Maturity is 4 months (120- 150 days).

● Tolerant to drought.

● Tolerant to most leaf diseases.

Suitable growing areas: Western Kenya- Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii; Nyanza Region- Homa Bay, Suba, Migori Rongo, Siaya, Bondo, South Rift- Tinderet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Sotik, Trans-Mara; Central Province- Muranga, Kiambu, Kirinyaga; Eastern Province-Embu, Meru, Machakos, Kitui, Mwingi etc.


(iii) Variety: KH 500-13A (Company: Freshco)

 


Qualities

● Average yield is 35-40 bags an acre.

● Maturity 4 months (120–140 days)

● Tolerant to MSV, leaf blight and leaf rust.

● Good stalks for cattle feed.

● Good standability.


(iv) Variety: WH 403 (Company: Western Seed)

 


Qualities

● Average yield is 30-35 bags per acre.

● Good husk cover.

● Does not lodge (fall due to wind and weight).

● Maturity 4 months (120-135 days).

Suitable growing areas: Western Kenya- Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii, Nyanza Region- Homa Bay, Suba, Migori Rongo, Siaya, Bondo, South Rift- Tinderet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Sotik, Trans-Mara, Central Province- Muranga, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Eastern Province- Embu, Meru, Machakos, Kitui and Mwingi.


(v) Variety: WH 402 (Company: Western Seed)

 


Qualities

● A superior hybrid seed.

● Average yield is 40 bags per acre.

● Slightly tolerant to Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease.

● Maturity 4 months (130-160 days).

Suitable growing areas: Western Kenya- Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Kisii, Nyanza Region- Homa Bay, Suba, Migori Rongo, Siaya, Bondo, South Rift- Tinderet, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Sotik, Trans-Mara, Central Province- Muranga, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Eastern Province- Embu, Meru, Machakos, Kitui, and Mwingi.


Kenya Seed Company: Popular varieties from the company for medium altitude zones include: H624, H524, H525 and H526. Others varieties include H513, H515, H516, H517, H518, H519, H520, H521 and H522.


C. DRYLAND VARIETIES

Dry land varieties mature within 90-120 days. These perform well in arid and marginal areas with a mean annual rainfall of 200mm - 500mm. The most suitable varieties for these regions are;

DH01, DH02, DH03 and DH04 (Kenya Seed Company).

KDV-1 (OPV), KDV-6 (OPV) (Freshco)


Areas where the varieties do well include Taita Taveta, Mwatate, Lamu, Mpeketoni, Homa Bay, Rongo, Unguja and Siaya.


D. STRIGA RESISTANT VARIETIES

Some areas in medium altitude zones have striga, a parasitic weed that chokes maize plants reducing their ability to produce maize. Striga-resistant varieties have been developed to overcome the problem. One of the varieties that is striga resistant is FRC 425R (FRESHCO) which produces 30-35 bags an acre. Another suitable variety is WH 303 (IR) from Western Seedco.


Important maize planting tips


In order to get a good maize crop, farmers need to go by the following planting tips:


Land preparation: The land to be used for planting should be prepared early enough.

 

Planting: Planting should be done early preferably two weeks before the rains stop. Maize planted after the rains have started cannot germinate well because the soil temperatures tend to go down as the rains persist.


Most farmers practice dry planting (planting when the rains have not started); in this case the germination tends to be vigorous. Research has shown that if a farmer plants two weeks after the onset of the rains, they lose an average of 2½ bags of maize per acre per week. Maize that is planted early also benefits from nitrogen flush – this is a process where the newly planted maize benefits from nitrogen fixed into the soil from the atmosphere at the onset of the rains before it is lost through leaching.


Spacing: It is important to space your maize correctly. There are two spacing options:


i) 75x30cm when planting one seed per hole.

ii) 75x60cm when planting 2 seeds per hole.


Always plant certified seed to get a good maize harvest.




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5 Responses to “What to do when selecting maize seed”

  1. Kiprop Sawe says:

    Thank you very much for this valuable information.

  2. Gaceri Eva says:

    Thenx alot for the most imformative article i wish all farmers would access this

  3. kenneth odongo says:

    i want to plant maize one acre in awendo migori give me tips on the variety to plant and all to get good yield thank you

  4. anthony says:

    Very valuable article

  5. Wambui R. says:

    I have planted the 33A somewhere in kirinyaga and it has done wonders……with a maize stalk having 4 maize cobs. This is good info for one to know which is best for planting depending on the area.

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