Zimbabwe’s major cotton seed producer Quton, has released new cotton hybrid seed. The seed, which generally requires less water, boasts of a higher yield potential compared to current non hybrid varieties. This is in a move that is set to revive the country’s cotton sector that has been on the decline for years.
Quton managing director Edworks Mhandu, speaking at the launch of the new cotton seed hybrids in Harare, said the release comes after conducting successful trials in partnership with the Cotton Research Institute in various parts of the country. He also spoke about the possibility of breeders introducing new varieties in 6 to 7 years instead of 15 years.
Quton, as the country’s sole cotton seed producer in collaboration with the Cotton Research Institute, conducted trials over the last two cropping seasons to develop highly adaptable and high-yielding cotton varieties to enhance the country’s competitiveness on the world market.
According to media reports, the company released its C567, C571 and C608 cotton hybrid varieties, which broadly have large bolls, very high oil and protein content as well as good fibre quality compared to the QM301 open variety. With good agronomic conditions and practices, the C571 and C567 varieties can yield about 5 500kg per hectare while the drought tolerant C608 can yield some 4 000kg per hectare.
Quton breeders say the hybrid varieties have a potential for 60 bolls per plant. Currently, the company has already started training thousands of farmers in major cotton growing regions of the country on how to grow the new varieties. Training was also done during trials to help build the capacity of farmers to grow cotton hybrid seeds.
The use of less water tolerant seeds will help deal with challenges related to unpredictable rainfall patterns resulting from climate change. Furthermore, the new varieties have a potential to transform cotton production through improved viability for farmers, increased cotton in terms of hectares as well as national cotton output.