Sorghum and Millet in Machakos District

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Dowker B. D.
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Present-day acreages of maize, sorghum and millet in Machakos District are discussed and reasons given for the unpopularity of the latter two cereals. Experimental work at Katumani on sorghums and millets, dating from 1956, is described. Results are given for (a) yields, grain type and bird resistance, (b) yields of the Ukiriguru-bred sorghums as compared with local types, (c) earliness and reliability of yield and (d) pests and diseases. The white flint-grained sorghums, which are weevil resistant and palatable, are shown to be the most susceptible to bird damage. Individual characters giving a degree of bird resistance in sorghum are shown to be ineffective under conditions of severe attack. The millet variety "Hedgehog" gave satisfactory bird resistance despite a severe bird attack. Other bristly headed millets proved susceptible. The sorghum and millet collections revealed a number of early maturing varieties, which fitted in with the four-month Machakos season and are, therefore, likely to be drought escaping. Only a few sorghums came into this category, but the majority of the millets are four month types. A trial carried out at a low altitude site to compare the reliability of yield of a quick maturing maize and sorghum showed clearly that sorghum was much the more efficient user of limited rainfall. The importance of this to’ Machakos District and related agriculture is stressed.
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, XXIX (No. 1), p. 52-57