Katumani Research centre Annual Report 2009

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Kenya Agriculture Research Institute
Cassava is a major factor in food security across sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, it is grown in over 90,000 ha with an annual production of about 540,000 t. Africa produces about 42% of the total tropical world production of the crop. It can grow in marginal lands, requires low inputs, and is tolerant to pests and drought. Investigations on the influence of divergent cultivars on their fresh matter partitioning, fresh biomass, top yield and harvest index when grown under irrigation were carried out. Five elite cassava cultivars (KME1, 990005, 990132, Mucerirceri, and Ndoro) were grown under sprinkler irrigation at KARI-Masongaleni in Kibwezi District. Plants were sampled per plot for various physiological and growth parameters, which included total fresh tuberous roots, leaves and stem yield, fresh biomass, top yield and fresh harvest index. Local cultivar KME1 had significantly higher fresh tuberous roots yield than landraces Ndoro and Mucericeri. The highest fresh matter was 1st partitioned to tuberous roots followed by stems and leaves. KME1 also had significantly (p<0.05) highest fresh biomass and top (above-ground fresh weight) yield. The results show that improved cultivar 990005 had significantly (p<0.05) higher fresh harvest index than the local cultivar KME1 and landrace Ndoro. If fresh harvest index were the only selection criterion, then improved clones 990005 and 990132 and landrace Mucerirceri should be selected and distributed to growers. However, this would be highly misleading and as such fresh harvest index should not be used as the sole selection criterion for cassava. The fresh biomass for KME1 was contributed largely by fresh tuberous roots yield, which was unfortunately compounded by the high top yield, leading to a low fresh harvest index being computed. The results suggest that the local cultivar KME1 was the most efficient in accumulating and partitioning fresh matter to the roots and stems.