How to Choose the Best Seeds variety for your farm

Are you looking for the high quality seeds in Kenya? Crop species, animal breed and specific cultivar variety is an important pre-investment farming decision. But, its not an easy choice when you are deciding among tens of alternatives. So how should you do it? In this post, we will give you a 5 steps guide for your seeds selection. Besides, we have included 9 factors that are a must to consider to end up with highest yields and income.

Benefits of seed selection

Is seed selection beneficial for you? If you are looking to grow a food or cash crop like maize or vegetables, seed selection has many benefits. You can improve farm production, enhance food security and ensure you reduce your cost of farming. Other advantages of proper seed selection include;

  • Selecting high-quality seeds ensures the best crop yields. This is by ensuring the seeds’ yield potential, its disease resistance, and harvest quality such as fruit size, color and shape.
  • Seed selection influences the adaptability of the crop to specific environmental or agro-ecological conditions, including climate and soil types.
  • Seed selection helps you to tailor your choices to maximize productivity and minimize risks.
  • Proper seed selection contributes to sustainable agriculture by preserving biodiversity and promoting resilience against pests, diseases, and climate change

How to analyse Seeds types – process

You will make two vast decisions; the best crop or plant types and selecting the best variety or breed to raise. You can achieve this by following a five  steps process;

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  1. Make a long list; identify all the crop or animal types that can do well in your region given its climate and soil types.
  2. Analyse and compare the profits and nutrition potential of each seed candidate. Use the cost-benefit analysis method for financial goals.
  3. Rank; the crops or animals based on results in step 2 above from the most profitable or nutritious to the least.
  4. Make a shortlist; prioritize a few plants, livestock or poultry types you can raise comfortably given your available land, capital and other resources.
  5. Variety or breed choice; once you have the plant and livestock types you will raise, compare their different seed varieties and breeds qualities to grow the best. you will follow similar steps as 1 to 4 above.

Factors to consider in your seeds selection process

How do I select the best seeds for my farm? While this is a ikey question for many farmers, there a few factors you can consider. In this post we will consider 8 factors. They are maturity period, demand, yield potential etc. We have expounded each here below.

Comparison of biomass and protein content of Azolla with other fodder crops
Some factors for seeds selection are yield potential and nutritional content as shown

🗺️Agro-ecological Zone (AEZ)

Animals and plants give you best harvsests in a given Agro-ecological zone (AEZ.) Its a direct influence of the area’s climate and weather (rainfall and temperature) conditions, soil types and altitude (metres above sea level). These will have an effect on soil drainage, sunlight exposure hours, temperature etc that affects plants growth rate. They also have an effect on disease and pest prevalence in your region. You can use online seed selection tools like Mbegu choice to choose seeds for your AEZ.

📈Market Demand

How popular and marketable is your seed variety of choice? Growing a popular crop or animal produce will give you access to a ready market and cheap farm inputs. You will also have an acess to functional value chain with a good flow of information and resources between all buyers and sellers. 

For example, quail products are unpopular compared to chicken products in Kenya.  The former has a niche market while the latter has an unmet demand across the country. Chicken raising would be more profitable than quails.

📅Days to Maturity

Time is money. In agriculture the shorter the time a crop or livestock takes to mature, the better. Therefore, choose the fast-maturing seed varieties or animal breeds to make more profits. By adopting this method, you can harvest up to 3-4 seasons in a year.

While the conventional maize varieties in Kenya mature in 6 – 9 months, the drought-tolerant varieties mature in 3-4 months. When you grow the drought resistant types, you can harvest and re-plant another crop in the field such as kienyeji vegetables when your neighbour’s maize has not flowered yet.

As a herder, keep the improved breeds like the Kari “Kienyenji” chicken. These have high-quality yields in a shorter time.

⚖️Yield potential (Kg or T/Acre)

If you are looking for ample food supply or profits, grow a seed variety with the higher yield potential in your AEZ. You can get high yields in Kg/Ha or Tons/Acre using various tricks for your selection such as

  • Late flowering varieties for vegtable greens like kales
  • Long harvesting lifespan for vegetables like tomatoes or spinach.
  • Root tubers and fruits has a high mass per fruit as well as higher fruits per crop.
  • A grain variety with higher yields have multiple heads or large seeds.

For meat, milk, or egg producers; the yield potential is for a well-managed (feeding and health) animal.

💰 Profitability (Ksh/Kg)

Are you a cash crop farmer looking higher profits? The grow the seed variety with the highest net profit per kilogram holding all other factors constant.  You can also figure it per an acre, plant or animal.

To estimate the profits, do a simple cost-benefit analysis (CBA). You will get the difference of your farming costs from your sale retuens after selling your produce.

🥦Nutrition (calories/kg)

Are you a subsistence farmer looking for high quality food for your family? Compare the crop or animal produce nutrition values and choose the highest. You can compare fats, vitamins and mineral contents between two or more similar products.

For instance, the figure above gives you the protein nutrient content for various fodder crops in Kenya. According to the analysis, azolla farming is most beneficial compared to Soya and sorghum.

📅 Harvesting lifespan

Grow a seed variety with long periods of picking fruits or vegetable yields. As a dairy farmer, choose a cow or goat breed whose milking period is longer.

🐛Tolerance to pests and diseases

Pests, weed and disease control is a huge farming cost today. To lower it, raise pets and crops breeds with improved or modified quality to withstand them. An example is a GMO seed strain that can withstand BT

🌦️Cimate Smart varieties

climate change effects like droughts and floods are the worst risk to current agriculture. As a cushion against these risks, grow seed varieties resistant to excess moisture or droughts (fast-growing seed varieties).

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