Quality of wheat seed used by farmers in Nakuru County

Production of wheat in Kenya has been below its potential and this has been attributed to recycling of seed, among other factors. Recycled seed may harbour seed borne pathogens which may accumulate over time resulting in increased disease incidences which lead to poor germination, poor emergence, and hence poor crop stand and ultimately low yield. This study sought to determine the quality of wheat seed used by farmers in Nakuru County. A total of 66 samples were collected from farmers in the major wheat growing areas. The samples were subjected to purity test to determine the weight of pure seed, insect damaged seed, discoloured seed, shrivelled seed, other crop seed, weed seed and inert matter. Germination test was also done to determine the number of germinated seeds, mouldy seeds, hard seeds, normal seedlings, abnormal seedlings and seedlings with infection. All the seed samples did not meet the minimum purity and germination standards of 99% and 85%, respectively. There was significant variation in the percentage of pure seeds from the different agro-ecological zones. The highest percentage physical purity of 92% was recorded in Agro-ecological zone UH2. The main contaminant of physical purity was inert matter. Significant variation was also observed in germination of the seeds and percentage of normal, abnormal and infected seedlings from the different regions. Agro-ecological zone UH2 recorded the highest percentage of normal seedlings of 83%. Agro-ecological zone LH3 recorded the highest levels of abnormal and infected seedlings. Therefore, recycling of seed reduces seed quality which in turn lowers productivity. Farmers should be advised on the importance of using certified seed or practicing quality seed management practices in order to prevent seed damage and improve production.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
Agris Subject Categories: 
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Web resource