Determination of the Effect of Harvesting Interval on the Growth and Leaf Yield of Rattlebox (Crotalaria Ochroleuca)
Crotalaria addresses the problem of food security and forms part of a substantial proportion of diets. The production of Crotalaria ochroleuca ("rattlebox") has been on the decline in the Western and North Rift regions of Kenya due to poor agronomic practices, such as harvesting interval, amongst others which have not been fully exploited to maximize yield of this food crop. The objective of this study was therefore, to determine the effect of the harvesting interval on growth and leaf yield of Crotalaria ochroleuca during the long and short rainy seasons of 2016. The experiment was carried out in two sites; at the Kaimosi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Nandi County and at the University of Eldoret (UoE)(Chepkoilel) farm in Uasin Gishu County. The treatments used consisted of three spacing regimes: (20x10, 30x10 and 40x10) cm and three harvesting intervals of 7, 14, and 21 days, respectively. The experiment was in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) laid out in a factorial arrangement. The treatments were replicated three times and the treatment effects measured on plant growth for a period of four (4) months. The data that were collected included; days at 50% flowering, number of branches, a thousand seed weight and fresh leaf weight. The data collected was then subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) on GenStat statistical software release 14.1 VSN International Ltd. Fisher’s Least Significant Difference (LSD) at P = 0.05 was used for multiple comparison among treatments. The study revealed that the harvesting interval of 21 days produced the best plant performance and leaf yield at both sites. Variations in season and site were also found to be significant in the growth and leaf yield of rattlebox. Generally, rattlebox performance in Kaimosi produced a better leaf yield (7gm) than Chepkoilel (6gm) during the two seasons. Season one during the long rainy season in both sites drastically reduced the performance of rattlebox plant that led to low leaf yield.
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