Performance of a local open pollinated maize variety and a common hybrid variety under intensive small-scale farming practices
Ashilenje, Dennis S.
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Given that the majority of maize farmers in Kenya are small-scale, improvement in maize production must focus on increased production per unit area. While hybrid maize varieties outperform local open pollinated varieties under conventional farming practices, their relative performance has not been tested under small-scale intensive production practices. A study was conducted in 2013 in Kitale, western Kenya, to evaluate performance of ‘Namba Nane’; a local open pollinated maize variety, alongside a high yielding hybrid, ‘Hybrid 614D’ under a small-scale, intensive farming practice that utilizes deep tillage and compost/manure. Each variety was subjected to conventional and diagonal offset close spacing. The grain yield of the hybrid (12.8 tons ha-1) was not statistically different from that of ‘Namba Nane’ (10.2 tons ha-1), even though the number of rows per cobb and number of ears per plant of the former were significantly greater than those of latter. However, yields of both varieites were about twice the published potential yield of imporved hybrid maize (6 tons ha-1) grown with conventional practices. Seed kernels of ‘Namba Nane’ weighed 1.6 times more than those of ‘Hybrid 614D’. Diagonal off-set close spacing under this technology increased the maize grain yield o fboth varieties 1.3 times. The cost of producing ‘Namba Nane’ under the technology was significantly less that producing the hybrid and twice more profitable (gross margin). Growing ‘Namba Nane’ using small-scale, intensive farming practices may be a viable option for most small-scale, resource-challenged farmers to increase economics yields.