Research on Apple & vegetable varieties on right track: Dr Kebede

AMU’s lone Gircha Highland Fruits and Vegetable Research Centre at Chencha tucked up 3,020 meter above sea level is in earnest quest to find the best for its communities; best fruits, tubers and vegetable varieties that is suited to utmost and chillingly wholesome ambience prevailing over this pleasant mountainous terrain.
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Since last 2 & ½ year Gircha Research Centre’s researchers are engrossed researching multiple varieties of Apple, Potato, Cabbage, Beetroot, Lettuce, Swish Chard and Pear while Hagenia Abyssinica is being promoted to find most suited varieties to this agro-ecological and climatic conditions that will boost yield, enhance quality and brightens the overall socio-economic prospect of farmers residing in Chencha.

After continuous research on 50 Apple cultivars, Crispin and Royal Gala have found to be promising; they are frost-tolerant, productive and adaptable in this agro-ecology; after propagation of them, they will be distributed to communities and 120 youth from two kebele administration are being trained to graft and grow them economically by taking required care, Gircha Centre Director, Dr Kedebe Jobir, said.

He adds rootstock and scion need to be compatible; if it’s missing, rootstock will absorb nutrients but growth will be stunted. Hence, growing them is expedient for they establish root and when grafted, they hold fast and grow is scientifically proven, whereas planted seed delays growth and yield isn’t expected.

He said, Apple is result of two different plant species, wherein rootstocks are anchor in soil and absorb nutrient, water and grow well, herein, we discovered Rootstocks MM-106 to be best at Gircha.  

Exemplifying further, he said, we have collected nine apple rootstocks from Chencha Kalehiwot Church i.e. Begidu, Gircha, TT-Gala, Local, MM-104, MM-106, MM-111, M-27 & M-26 and planted them for a year during dormancy stage. After a year’s growth scions of 50 Apple varieties were collected and grafted on the aforesaid rootstocks.

Thereafter, the necessary orchard management was performed and cultivars grew very well, some of them bore fruits early while others couldn’t. Among the mentioned rootstocks under Gircha Research Centre soil and climatic condition, performance of MM-106 was observed to be better than others.

Listing out scions grafted on Apple rootstocks, Dr Kebede said, we are researching on rootstocks such as Begidu, Gircha, TT-Gala, Local, MM-104, MM-106, MM-111, M-27 and M-26; and grafting them on scions to carefully evaluate and scientifically analyze their performance and fruit bearing efficacy.

Cultivars named Nila, Melrose, Saturn, Alkemne and Scarlet Ohora are grown on rootstock Begidu; MM-111, MM-106 and MM-104 are being grafted with cultivars like Summerland, Machinta, Wintergem, Selina, Grilinda, Smoothy, Pirose, Cutty, Gloster-69, Crown Gold, Rubinola, Primera, Pilartrea, Ribela, Queen Cooker and Red Super.

Likewise, MM-106 and Local are grafted with Granny Smith, Crispin, Topaz, Jonica, Ariwa, Gala Must, Pranch Gold, Enerprise, Royal Gala, Red Delicious, Yataka, Obra Gala, Pilet, Pinnova, Elstar, Relenda, Red Prince, Orin, Richard Delicious and Golden Delicious.

While M-26 and M-27 are grown to Jonagored, Royal Gala, Crispin and Green Linda scion; Quince rootstocks grafted on Bartlet, William BC, Improved Fertility, Adams Pear and Packhams scions.

On vegetable varieties, he said, six cabbage varieties grown here of which ‘Linda’ is more productive, a single cabbage weighs up to 10 kg. At this altitude (Chencha) Linda grows well while others couldn’t. Linda is being multiplied and later it will be distributed to community.

Beetroot, Lettuce, Swish Chard, Carrot (AA.108) and Ethno-medicinal plant Hagenia Abyssinica (on verge of extinction) is being grown so that we can conserve it, he stressed.

Furthermore, three researchers, Seifu Fetena, Andargachew Ditebo and Behailu Asrat have had series of experiments on six potato (Solanum Tuberosum) varieties, Gudane, Jalane, Belete, Digemegn, Tolcha and Father (local), of which Gudane found to be best.

In that connection, intercropping of potato between rows of Apple crops has been successful, it’s being done this year and local farmers are working at the site to learn about it. Such variety will be multiplied and stored and till date, 50 quintals have been produced for seed, in July 2019; these seeds will be distributed to selected community members to replicate what has been done here.

Over 50 varieties of 1,729 Apple plants cover sprawling 2.8 hectares of land as this potential research is aimed at finding; which rootstocks are suitable for particular scion. Chencha has nine rootstocks that are anonymous and which go with which scion still unknown; growers just found to be hopping from one to other rootstocks and result isn’t that promising. 

He said, even genetic make-up of aforesaid rootstocks isn’t known; Chencha has five globally recognized rootstocks: MM-104, MM-111, MM-106, M-27 and M-26, but other varieties’ genetic make-up need to be investigated, he averred.

And after 5 years, AMU expects huge apple harvest and establishment of processing units. Gircha Centre may invite Indian scholars to evaluate varying impact of fluctuating temperature on each variety and yield. Hitherto, analysis of soil and leaf nutrient parameters are being done at Abaya laboratory, he signed off.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)