Improving Seed Health and Seed Performance by Positive Selection in Three Kenyan Potato Varieties
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Selecting seed potatoes from healthy-looking mother plants (positive selection) was compared with common Kenyan farmer practice of selection from the harvested bulk of potatoes (farmer selection) in 23 farmer-managed trials. Positive selection assured lower incidences of PLRV (39%), PVY (35%) and PVX (35%). Positive selection out-yielded farmer selection irrespective of the agro-ecology, crop management, soil fertility, variety and quality of the starter seed, with an overall average of 30%. Regression analysis showed a relation between lower virus incidence and higher yield for the varieties. The paper discusses the consequences for seed system management in African countries. Furthermore possible additional effects of positive selection are discussed and further research is suggested. The paper concludes that positive selection can benefit all smallholder potato producers who at some stage select seed potatoes from their own fields, and should thus be incorporated routinely in agricultural extension efforts.
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