Open-pollinated maize (Zea mays) varieties remain popular in marginal communities since seeds can be selected and stored for the next season. However, maize weevil (Sitophilus zeamais) is an economic post-harvest pest of maize grains, which is difficult to manage. Various indigenous seed storage technologies had been in use within marginal communities, with little empirically-based support of their efficacy on weevils. The influence of storing maize seeds in active cattle kraal (ACK) for suppression of weevils and therefore protection of seeds was studied at three locations over two seasons. Water-tight plastic containers, each with 500 maize seeds infested with 20 maize weevils, with 10 replications, were stored in 30-cm-deep holes in ACK, with controls stored at farmer level. At 120 days after storage, relative to farmer controls, ACK reduced final S. zeamais numbers (73 to 95%) and damage of various seed sets (27 to 97%), but improved seed quality (101 to 3500%), seedling emergence (27 to 64%) and root/shoot ratio (19 to 50%). In conclusion, results of the study suggested that ACK storage has the potential for storing open-pollinated maize seeds throughout winter for farmers in marginal communities to allow for quality seeds that produce vigorous seedlings in the next growing season.
Key words: Active cattle kraal, maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais, seed quality, seedling vigour.
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