Cenchrus ciliaris is widely promoted as a choice grass species for reseeding Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs). Nine ecotypes of C. ciliaris collected from selected sites in Kenyan ASALs were evaluated for seed yield and related traits in three KALRO centres (Kiboko, Buchuma and Mtwapa) in a randomized complete block design with three replicates. The seeds were analyzed for seed yield, mean caryopsis number per spikelet, germination rate, germination capacity, mean germination time and length of germination. Buchuma site (234 kg/ha) had higher (P<0.05) mean seed yield than Kiboko and Mtwapa with 108 and 109.8 kg/ha, respectively. Seed yield varied between ecotypes at Kiboko and Mtwapa but not at Buchuma. All ecotypes had a mean of less than one caryopsis per spikelet except KLF1, KLF2 and MGD3. Seed yield was significantly positively correlated with caryopsis per spikelet (r = 0.78) but significantly negatively correlated with percent empty spikelets (r = -0.75). KLF1 ecotype, a high seeder, had the highest mean germination capacity at 71 % and MGD3 had the least with 22.5%. Ecotype MGD3 that was collected from a seasonally flooded preserved grazing area in agro-ecological zone six recorded the poorest germination characteristics across all sites. The low germination capacity of some of the ecotypes could be due to dormancy characteristics that adapted them to the environmental conditions of their sites of collection.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Working document series