The choice of appropriate maize varieties for a given location is very important because every variety has extensively been tested and recommended based on climatic conditions, soil type, yield potential, tolerance/resistance to pest and diseases or maturity period among others (Table 1).
i) Open pollinatedvariety(OPV)
These are stabilised varieties in which farmers do not need new seed each year. If farmers follow proper selection procedures they can use their seeds selected from their harvests up to three seasons after which they can buy fresh seeds from seed companies. However, yields of OPV are lower than hybrids.
Hybrids are high yielding and new certified seeds should be purchased every season.
Eco-zone and main areas where found
Yield potential (bags/ acre)
Highland zones with high rainfall; Altitude:15002100m above sea level;
Areas: Trans Nzoia, Uasin
Gishu, Nakuru, Kericho,
Nandi, Bungoma, Laikipia, Kisii, Narok and Tea zones of Central and Eastern provinces
Highland zones, high rainfall; Altitudes: 1000-1700m above sea level; Areas:
Baringo, Siaya, Kisumu,
Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega,
Nakuru, South, Nyanza, Taita
Coffee zone medium long growing season; Altitude: 1000-1800m above sea leave; Areas: Coffee zones of Central and Eastern provinces, Kisii, Narok, Nakuru, Siaya, Kisumu,
West Pokot, Keiyo,
Dryland areas. Marginal areas with low rainfall.(400mm-800mm); Altitude:
1000-1800 above sea level;
Areas: Kitui, Machakos, West
Pokot, Makueni, Kajiado,
Isiolo, Lower Meru and
Embu, Siaya, Kisumu
KCB, KDV 1, KDV 4 and KDV 6,
AItitude: 800 - 1200 m above sea level, Drier areas same as for Kitui, Machakos, Makueni drier areas
Lowland zones - Hot humid; Altitude: 0-1200m above sea level
Recommended maize varieties in the Western Kenya and Rift Valley regions under KCEP are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Recommended maize varieties for Western Kenya and Rift Valley regions under KCEP
Farmers are advised to use certified seeds that are available at the authorized agents. Maize variety selection depends on:
Maize is primarily grown for grains, silage and stock feed. Ensure the variety you grow is suited to the end use market you are aiming for.
Plan to sow seeds of chosen variety in the recommended planting windows outlined in Table 2, ensuring maturity, expected rainfall and expected harvest time (days to harvest) . It is also important to ensure harvest will not be far into the dry season as prolonged drought will encourage the onset of aflatoxin in maize.
Select varieties that have well developed roots, strong stalks, and are resistant to root and stalk rot. These features help prevent the plant from falling over/logging, which can lower the yield and quality of the grain.
iv) Insect and disease tolerance/resistance
Always select a maize variety that is known to have tolerance/resistance to a disease or insect pest common in your area where is to be grown so as to attain maximise yield potential.
Note: If you receive or acquire a new maize variety, then test it on small plots before scaling up the production to big plots. Observe and compare the performance of the new variety with the other varieties at every stage of growth under similar management conditions of planting time, weeding and soil fertility management. This will help you to choose the best performing variety under local prevailing conditions.
Highland Plough twice and and harrow once medium or plough once regions but at least 3 months before the anticipated time of planting + 2 harrows just before planting
One plough (disc or
based herbicide at 2 l/acre during fallow and 1.2 l/ acre at least 2 weeks before planting
Lower coast and Dry areas of Lower eastern
This involves the use of oxen to plough the land. However, it is not suitable where soils are heavy and terrain is steep
2.1.3Testing for germination
While the germination percentage (%) of seeds is supposed to be indicated on every sold packet, farmers often get non-germinating seeds and this results in disappointment after planting. Therefore, it is advisable always acquire fresh seeds from an authorized dealer based on the packaging date shown. If there is remnant seeds from the previous stock, a farmer should always conduct a simple germination test. Counting a 100 seeds of a selected maize variety and put between moist old newspapers does this. After four days of incubation, the germinated seeds are counted and divided by the total seeds and expressed as a percentage. For example, if out of the 100 seeds 85 seeds germinate, germination percent will be 85%. A germination percentage of 85-100% is considered good for the maize seed. In case germination rate is lower, you may increase sowing density correspondingly to ensure appropriate plant density (for example plant 2-3 seeds) per hole.
To ensure high maize yields, select highly productive land suitable that is suitable for maize production. For example, avoid steeply sloping land, or near a swamp, very sandy soils, and areas with shallow surface soil, places with couch grass or under trees.
Plant immediately following the first effective rainfall. Choose a seed variety that suits the expected rainfall you receive in your area. Use shortseason varieties in dry areas, and only choose a long-season type if you are in a very high rainfall area or you have access to irrigation.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation,
Location: Kaptagat Rd, Loresho Nairobi Kenya
Post Office: P.O.Box 57811,
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