ZIMBABWE – Seed Co Zimbabwe, the country’s largest supplier of certified crops has introduced new climate smart maize seed variety called SC 649, meant to address challenges in climate change experienced by many farmers.

The new variety meets breeding objectives which came at a time when Southern Africa has had adverse climate effects, including prolonged drought in 2015 and 2016.

According to the company, SC 649 is the highest yielding variety in the medium season maturity category with a potential yield of up to 16 tonnes per hectare under good management.

The variety is high-yielding thus creates value for farming while it is also tolerant to harsh climatic conditions and resilient to drought, pests and even diseases that affect maize crop.

It tolerates a number of high potential diseases like Grey Leaf opot, blights, Common Rust, Phaespheria Leaf Spot which adversely affect crop yields.

High yields are complemented by excellent cobbing ability (long, fat cobs up to 30cm), high row number lines of more than 16 up to 20, high shelling out percentage of up to 87%.

Seed Co agronomy and extension services manager John Bhasera said that Seed Co had another variety that had been introduced called SC 419, which is an early maturity maize hybrid with yield potential of up to 14 tonnes per hectare.

“SC 649 is climate smart, stable, hardy and hence drought tolerant.

“Ideally a farmer prefers a maize variety with good to excellent standability or harvestability.

The new medium season block buster endows this trait especially when planted at optimum plant populations of 50 000 to 60 000 plants per hectare,” said Mr Bhasera.

To maximize yields from the variety, farmers were encouraged to procure their inputs in time in order to plant early to tap into the heat units of October, November and December.

Best yields are achieved when planted around October or November or with the first effective rains for them to get the best yields and returns.

Planting early, together with adopting Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs) unlocks the genetic potential of varieties for farmers to get the best possible return from their investment.

Seed Co also introduced a blockbuster soybean variety called SC Status that has a yield potential of up to 5.5 tonnes per hectare under good management, reports the Herald.