A new disease-resistant sorghum hybrid with 23-34% higher yield, best suited for brewing, food and forage and adaptable to diverse agro-ecologies in Zimbabwe and southern Africa was developed in partnership with Seed Co, a private seed company. The development and use of the new hybrid is a forerunner of the ICRISAT-led Sorghum and Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium that fosters public-private partnerships.

The new hybrid (SCXH102) demonstrated superior and consistent performance during the evaluation period. It outperformed all the check hybrids and open pollinated varieties used in the trials. Its yield potential is 3.5-8 t/ha and comes with a yield advantage of 23-34 % compared to the local checks NS5511 and Rakodzi respectively.

It is an early to medium maturing hybrid with an average height of 165 cm, maturing in 92 to 115 days (Table 1). It has a stiff straw that offers good resistance to lodging. In addition, it has good resistance to leaf blight and sooty stripe. It is a brown seeded hybrid and is good for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (opaque beer brewing) as shown in Table 2. ICRISAT and Seed Co collaborated with Delta Corporation, the largest beer brewing company in Zimbabwe on malting quality evaluation. SCXH102 showed acceptable malting quality levels for moisture, Sorghum Diastatic Units (SDU), solubility and malt activity making it ideal for brewing.

ICRISAT supplied sorghum inbreds to Seed Co, a primary and founding member of the said consortium and a leading producer and marketer of certified crop seeds in Zimbabwe and in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region. The breeding lines were shared by Dr Eric Manyasa, Sorghum Breeder, ICRISAT-ESA. Various hybrid combinations were derived from the inbreds and one of the combinations produced a competitive hybrid named as SCXH102. The hybrid underwent extensive multi-location trials in Lowveld (semi-arid), Middleveld and Highveld ecologies of Zimbabwe for over three consecutive cropping seasons.

As the demand for sorghum and pearl millet grain grows driven by emerging markets and alternative uses in ESA (e.g. brewing) and pragmatic food security policies (e.g. flour blending), greater productivity enhancement opportunities exist from sorghum and pearl hybrids which have shown >30% yield advantage over open pollinated varieties. The Seed companies have realized this potential and opportunity that will guarantee them regular seed sales as opposed to open pollinated varieties where farmers recycle seed. Due to their limited capacity to develop hybrid parents, the seed companies depend on breeding programs like ICRISAT’s to supply these. The development and release of this new sorghum hybrid in partnership with Seed Co is a big step in this direction.

Table 1: Mean values of agronomic characteristics measured over 3 cropping seasons (2017-2020)

Characteristic SCXH102
Plant height cm 165
Days to maturity:
Lowveld (below 800 m) 92
Middleveld (800 – 1,200 m) 113
Highveld (over 1,200m) 115
Leaf Blight Score 2.7
Sooty Stripe Score 1.0
Mass/1,000 seed (g) 28
Grain Colour Brown
Principle use Brew, Food and Feed

Key: Disease score: 1 = Resistant and 9 = highly susceptible

Table 2: Malting Quality Attributes of SCXH102

Sample Moisture SDU Solubility Malt Activity
Specification LSL Target USL LSL Target USL LSL Target USL LSL Target USL
5 6 to 9 10 25 30-40 45 89 90-99 100 22.25 27-39.6 45
SCXH 102 7.884 39.46 91 35.91

Source: Delta Corporation Limited, a beer and soft drink company of Zimbabwe

Key: LSL= Lower specification Level; USL= Upper specification Level; SDU= Sorghum Diastatic Units

Reported by Hapson Mushoriwa, Principal Scientist & Regional Breeding Theme Lead Zimbabwe, East & Southern Africa Program

Visit EXPLOREit for more on sorghum and work in Zimbabwe.

Project name: Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) Phase I

Funder: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Partners: Seed Co and ICRISAT

CRP: Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal.
8-industry-innovation 17-partnerships-goals

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