Tried and tested wheat cultivars for the Zambian market

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Sensako is a proudly Southern African company with an established network of both local and international co-operators and interests. From humble beginnings in 1958, Sensako has maintained a proud history of product development and service to the grain producer in Southern Africa and a strong brand value among farmers.  Since 2008, Sensako has refocused its research and efforts on continued wheat development as well as the re-establishment of summer crops.

Sensako develops its products under the principles of “PROGRESS THROUGH RESEARCH” to produce new improved varieties/hybrids that contain “PROVEN GENETICS”. This is what Sensako calls “THE SENSAKO EFFECT”, which has become a slogan to encapsulate the vision and mission of the company.

This article examines the progress in research of this widely known brand at its present point in the Zambian wheat seed market. The individuals currently involved in the winter crop breeding activities are the following: Dr Francois Koekemoer is the Research and Development Director, Wikus Bergh the Operational Director, and Stephan de Groot the Wheat Breeder.

Wheat evaluation trials with the newly released cultivars have been planted in Zambia in collaboration with Syngenta since 2015, and a synopsis of the yield results is shown in Table 1. The Sensako varieties have been tested against the local wheat cultivars to verify the yield potential and adaptation to climatic conditions.

From these yield results the Sensako cultivars, particularly MRI 875 and SST 884 have shown improved yields compared to the local cultivar.

An interesting observation from a commercial farmer in SERENJE, Zambia: Northern

He planted MRI 875 at the end of July 2017 and harvested in November, after heavy rainfall. The cultivar produced a reasonable yield, and grain quality was still excellent. SC NDUNA would not have been accepted by the millers if the same practice had taken place. The cultivar MRI 843 has a shorter growing season and is suitable for later plantings.

A condensed version of the cultivar characteristics is briefly discussed:

MRI 843

This short growth period cultivar has good yield potential and good grain quality. It is adapted to late plantings, has good lodging tolerance, good resistance to yellow rust and moderate resistance to leaf and stem rust.

MRI 875

The short to medium growth period cultivar has good yield potential and good grain quality. This cultivar has the ‘stay-green’ characteristic indicating good drought tolerance and has good lodging tolerance and good adult plant resistance against leaf and yellow rust.

SST 884

A newly released cultivar in Zambia with excellent yield potential, a short growth period and good grain quality. This cultivar has the ‘stay-green’ characteristic indicating good drought tolerance. The cultivar has good lodging tolerance, an excellent root system and good plant resistance against stem and yellow rust.

In conclusion, Sensako is building on its policy to offer “THE SENSAKO EFFECT” (value adding products) to wheat producers. Tried and tested under local conditions these cultivars are the next step in improved wheat production.

Table 1: Yield results of wheat cultivars tested in Zambia: 2015-2017

Sensako cultivars are marketed and distributed in Zambia by Syngenta.


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