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Maize Landraces are Less Affected by Striga hermonthica Relative to Hybrids in Western Kenya

  • Charles A. O. Midega (a1), John Pickett (a2), Antony Hooper (a2), Jimmy Pittchar (a1) and Zeyaur R. Khan (a1)...


Production of maize in western Kenya is severely constrained by the parasitic weed striga. Although productivity of maize can be improved through adoption of improved varieties, adoption of such varieties remains low in the region, as the majority of smallholder farmers still grow unimproved open-pollinated varieties (landraces). The performance of two improved hybrid varieties was evaluated against six landraces in striga-infested soils in western Kenya. The varieties were planted in plots under natural striga infestation and were supplemented with pot experiments under artificial infestation. Striga emergence was lower in landraces than in the hybrid varieties in both field and pot experiments. Similarly, height of maize plants at harvest and grain yields were higher in the landraces than in the hybrids. After three continuous cropping seasons, in all treatments, striga seedbank density increased two to seven times. Seedbank increase was higher with hybrids and two of the landraces, ‘Rachar' and ‘Endere'. These results provide an insight into the potential role landraces could play in efforts toward an integrated management approach for striga in smallholder cropping systems. They also highlight the need to develop hybrid maize lines with local adaptation to biotic constraints, specifically striga.

La producción de maíz en el oeste de Kenya está severamente limitada por la maleza parasítica Striga hermonthica. Aunque la productividad del maíz puede ser incrementada con la adopción de variedades mejoradas, la adopción de estas variedades sigue siendo baja en la región, ya que la mayoría de los pequeños productores todavía producen variedades no-mejoradas de polinización abierta (autóctonas). El desempeño de dos variedades mejoradas híbridas fue evaluado y comparado con seis variedades autóctonas en campos infestados con S. hermonthica en el oeste de Kenya. Las variedades fueron sembradas en parcelas con infestaciones naturales de S. hermonthica y en potes con infestaciones artificiales. La emergencia de S. hermonthica fue más baja con variedades autóctonas que con híbridos. Después de tres temporadas continuas de producción, la densidad del banco de semillas de S. hermonthica aumentó de dos a siete veces en todos los tratamientos. El aumento del banco de semillas fue mayor con variedades híbridas y con las autóctonas 'Rachar' y 'Endere'. Estos resultados brindan una idea del rol potencial que pueden jugar las variedades autóctonas en los esfuerzos para el manejo integrado de S. hermonthica en sistemas de cultivos de pequeños productores. Además, los resultados resaltan la necesidad de desarrollar líneas híbridas de maíz con adaptaciones a las limitaciones bióticas locales, especialmente S. hermonthica.


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Weed Technology
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