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

AMU’s lone Gircha Highland Fruits and Vegetable Research Centre at Chencha tucked up ‎2,732 meter above sea level (8,963 feet), is in earnest quest to find the best for its communities; best fruits and vegetable varieties that  is suited to utmost and chillingly wholesome ambience prevailing over this pleasant mountainous terrain.Click here to see the pictures

Since last 2 & ½ year Gircha Centre’s researchers are engrossed researching multiple varieties of Apple, Potato, Cabbage, Beetroot, Lettuce, Swish Chard, Pear and Hagenia Abyssinica 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 youth will be trained to graft, grow and 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, 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, they absorbs nutrient, water and grow well, herein, we discovered Rootstocks MM-106 to be best at Gircha.  

Exemplifying further, he said, we collect branches of two species during dormant stage and graft; it will grow well, but, flowering doesn’t mean plant is productive, it must bear fruit. Fruition depends on age of plant, and as apple plants get older they tend to bear more fruits provided they are nurtured properly.

Getting down to brass tacks, he reveals Apple plant contains five major hormones: Auxin, Gibberellin, Cytokinin, Ethylene and Abscisic; Auxins are produced on stem tip that stimulate stem elongation and inhibits growth of lateral buds. Cytokinins are produced in roots that stimulate growth and have anti-aging effects. 

Importantly, Ethylene is termed as an aging hormone for it accelerate developmental processes; it acts at trace levels throughout the life of a plant by regulating ripening of fruit, opening of flowers, and abscission (or shedding) of leaves. And during this dormant stage grafting is carried out, he informed.

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 grafted on rootstock Begidu, MM-111, MM-106 and MM-104 are being fixed on 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 embedded 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. M-26 and M-27 are attached 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 10-to-15 kg and get mature in 4-to-5 time. At this altitude Linda grows well, while others couldn’t. Linda is being multiplied and later it will be distributed to community.

Beetroot, Lettuce, Swish Chard, Carrot (AA108) 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, Jalale, Belete, Digemegn, Tolcha and Father (local), of which Gudane found to be best.

One of the scientific studies term Potato as one the important species containing polyphenols Clorogenic acid, which is effective in diabetes for it reduces blood sugar; it’s also powerful antioxidants that have reportedly demonstrate anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, nurturing best varieties will be a boon for the communities.

In that connection, intercropping of potato between rows of Apple crops has been successful, it’s being done since last 2 & ½ years, and local farmers are working at the site to learn. Such variety will be multiplied and stored and till date, 40 quintals have been produced for seed, in July 2019; these seeds will be distributed to community youths to replicate what has been done here.

Over 50 varieties of 1,729 Apple plants cover sprawling 10.5 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 need to be investigated in Europe, 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)