In Brief

Kenya unveils hybrid maize seeds without pollen

Kenyan scientists have released a new maize production technology that will rely on hybrid genes that do not produce pollen to cut cost of generating seeds.

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation in partnership with Corteva Agriscience, the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, Qualibasic Seed and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center have announced the release of three FNP hybrids (CHKM21W002, CHKM21W003 and CHKE21W001) which are adapted to low soil fertility conditions.

The technology designed for Africa following trials in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe under the Seed Production Technology for Africa (SPTA) utilizes a dominant non-pollen producing maize gene, Ms44, to create female parent plants that are unable to produce pollen and which do not need to be detasseled during hybrid seed production process.

Detasseling involves removing the tassel at the very top of the maize plant either by hand or mechanically to prevent un-wanted pollination. It is a labour intensive, complex and time consuming process which, if not done well, can lead to self-pollination. This can contaminate the hybrid product and reduce the final yield potential of commercial certified seed.

Scientists say the new technology will make crosspollination between the female and male parents more reliable, enabling efficient and cost-effective delivery of high purity hybrid seed.

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