INTEGRATING STRIGA MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVED MAIZE PRODUCTION IN WESTERN KENYA
Maize is an important crop in Kenya but is adversely affected by Striga hermonthica weed that reduces yields considerably, especially in Western Kenya. Single stand-alone management strategies for the weed have been used, but each has had its own demerits. The objective of this study was to integrate and determine the best maize variety and seed coat agents that would manage Striga and improve yields of maize, while at the same time obtain yields from soya beans in the same production system. A 4*4 factorial experiment was carried out in Teso, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kibos during the long and short rains seasons of 2012. Two Striga tolerant varieties, GAF4 and KSTP 94, a susceptible variety H505 and IR maize were each primed and coated with; a fungus ,Fusarium oxysporum (Foxy FK3), Phosphorus based fertilizer (Gro-plus), Gro-plus+Foxy FK3 and a control where seeds were not coated. Planting of maize and soya beans was done in MBILI system. Data was collected on striga numbers and biomass, maize grain weight and weight of shelled soya beans. The data was subjected to ANOVA and means separated using contrast in GENSTAT version 12.2. Gro-plus, Gro plus + Foxy FK3 and Foxy FK3 coatings on all maize varieties led to increased maize grain yield and biomasss and had lower Striga biomass and numbers compared to the control. The best performance was observed in Gro-plus maize seed coating but there was no much difference between Foxy FK3 and Foxy FK3+Gro plus coatings. KSTP94 yielded highest in maize grains when coated with Gro plus, compared to all the other combinations.IR maize technology did not manage to inhibit striga growth. H505 with no seed coating yielded the least. Soya beans grown as intercrop in all the maize variety-coating combinations did not show any significant difference in terms of grain yields. All varieties coated with Gro-plus and Foxy FK3 had more than 50% MRR. This reiterates the importance of using the synergized technology to manage striga and improve maize yields. The recommended best package was H505 coated with Gro-plus. Further research however needs to be done to determine the best possible way of combining Foxy FK3 and Gro plus to integrate their individual abilities in managing striga and ultimately improving yields of maize.