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CIMMYT quality protein maize hybrids shine in 2005-06 trials

In global trials during 2005-06, white-grained, quality protein maize (QPM) experimental hybrids from CIMMYT significantly outyielded the best seed industry checks. QPM grain contains nearly twice normal maize’s levels of the essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. Normal and single-cross (two inbred lines as parents) QPM hybrids were tested at 15 locations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and three-way-cross (an inbred line and a single-cross hybrid as parents) QPM hybrids were tested at 44 locations in Central America, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. The best white-grained QPM hybrids beat the best seed industry checks across country sites and at more than 50 individual locations.

“This is a new generation of QPM hybrids,” says CIMMYT maize breeder and Distinguished Scientist, Hugo Cordova. “In Mexico two of the experimental hybrids out-yielded the checks by 28% and 38%. Ear rot was heavy in Central America in 2005 as a result of Hurricane Stan, but the best QPM hybrids showed damage levels well below those seen in seed industry checks.”

Cordova, who has led QPM research and dissemination with partners since the mid-1990s, recently visited a trial sown in the field of a farmer in Tepalcingo, Morelos State, Mexico, by former CIMMYT maize breeder, Narciso Vergara, now working with the company BIOFABRICA SIGLO XXI, which markets QPM and biofertilizers as package.

During 2006 partners in the Agrosalud Project, funded by CIDA-Canada and implemented by CIMMYT, are conducting nearly 600 demonstrations worldwide involving QPM hybrids and varieties. Preliminary results indicate good acceptance by farmers. Production of basic and commercial seed is in progress. The release by national agencies of new QPM cultivars is expected for early 2007.

PHOTO: “This maize has good yield and the ears are clean of rot,” says Farmer J. Jesús Rebolloza Vergara of Tepalcingo, Morelos State, Mexico. He and CIMMYT maize breeder Hugo Cordova stand before a pile of the CIMMYT QPM hybrid 519c, an improved version of a hybrid originally released by the Mexican National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock Research (INIFAP). The same hybrid is being evaluated in El Salvador for release as “Platino” in 2007. Rebolloza lent the 0.6 hectare plot shown here for 2006 trials in which CIMMYT QPM hybrids beat popular seed industry hybrids.