Growing the right types of maize could boost yields for Rwandan farmers
Scientists have identified some of the best varieties of maize that farmers can grow in certain parts of Rwanda. Improving maize yields using these varieties could contribute to food security in the country.
In Rwanda, maize is an important food crop. The Rwandan government has a programme to increase yields of maize and other key crops so that food security in the country can be improved.
Their approach includes increasing the amount of farmland and growing maize in many different areas. It can also help to ensure farmers are using varieties of maize that produce a large crop even when environmental conditions, like rainfall and soil quality, change.
In this study, the researchers wanted to see how well different varieties of maize would grow, and how much food they’d produce, in different areas. They were especially interested in identifying varieties that would produce high yields under different conditions and that could adapt well to changes in their environment.
The researchers selected 27 varieties of maize for their experiments and grew plots of the crop in 3 different areas in Rwanda. They focused on growing maize in parts of the country that were between 950 and 1700 metres above sea level, called mid-altitudes.
In each plot, researchers monitored the maize in terms of how well the plants were growing, how much maize they produced, and their resistance to disease.
They then analysed this data to determine which of the varieties were most “stable”, meaning that they were able to produce higher yields of maize consistently in different areas and under different environmental conditions.
The researchers found large differences between the varieties, including how tall the plants grew, how much maize they produced, and how successfully they fought diseases.
They also found that 12 of the varieties grew better in general in the three different areas, and consistently produced better than average maize yields. They note that some of these varieties are new hybrid types produced by the Rwanda Agriculture Board, and that these are good candidates for growing in mid-altitudes in the country.
Researchers caution that they were only able to conduct their experiments for one growing season, and that one of their sites was subjected to a drought during this period, which would affect maize yields from that site.
The study was a collaboration between scientists from Rwanda and Sweden.
A multi-environment yield trial is important to understand the genotype by environment interaction and to select high performing and stable crop varieties. The aim of this study was to identify high yielding and stable hybrid maize varieties for mid altitudes of Rwanda, to compare the performance of new hybrid varieties with commercial checks, and to determine the extent of genotype by environment interaction. Maize is a staple crop used to fight hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Different varieties have been released to increase yield including Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) and hybrids. Genotype by Environment interaction is an issue that all breeding program need to overcome. In the future, improved varieties will be needed in order to increase income for farmers and help in food security Field experiments were conducted to assess the performance and the stability of 27 maize varieties in the mid altitudes zone of Rwanda in the Cyabayaga, Rubona and Bugarama sites. The experimental design was alpha lattice (0,1) with a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD). Data were collected for a number of characters i.e. silking, Antesis-Silking Interval (ASI), plant height, plant aspect, ear per plant, husk cover, ear aspect, ear rot and grain yield. Data were analyzed by GenS Stat statistical computer package, Discovery Edition. ANOVA and AMMI analysis were applied to assess the performance and the stability of varieties and the degree of genotype by environment interaction (G×E). In addition, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis were conducted to assess relationships between varieties. The results showed that RHM1706, RHMM1701, RHM1409, RHMM1707, WH509, RHMM1704, RHM407, WH101, RHMM1710, RHMM1708, PAN53 and RHM104 were stable across locations. Furthermore, the evaluated varieties were found to cluster into five groups. Varieties found to be most stable are recommended for further use.
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