A new high yielding, disease resistant winter wheat variety for Afghanistan


Mohammad Qasem Obaidi1, Assadullah Habibi2, Mohammad Hashim Azmatyar1, Zamarai Ahmadzada1, Elias Mohmand3, Abdul Qayum3, Rajiv Sharma3*


1Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan

2 Food and Agriculture Organization, Kabul, Afghanistan

3International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Kabul, Afghanistan

* Corresponding author: Rajiv Sharma (E-mail: rajivksharma@rediffmail.com)



Afghanistan depends on irrigated wheat for 70 to 90% of its wheat harvest. Winter wheat has traditionally been an important contributor to Afghan wheat production; however share of winter wheat varieties in national wheat certified seed production has come down from about 20% to 10% mainly because of lack of suitable resistant varieties. Bamyan 013 was introduced in Afghanistan through winter wheat observation nursery in 2006-07 and was later tested in yield evaluation trials for four years at three winter wheat locations. The variety was found suitable for Afghan conditions as it out-yielded the popular winter wheat checks like Bezostaya, Solh 02 by a margin ranging from 8% to 31% during four years testing and was therefore released for cultivation in August 2013.



Wheat is Afghanistan’s staple food crop covering about 2.5 million hectare producing slightly over five million tons in 2012 (Agriculture Prospect Report, 2012) at an average productivity of 1.99 tones per hectare. However, Afghanistan wheat production fluctuates owing to several factors. In an average year, irrigated wheat occupies less than 50% of the area but contributes up to 70-80% of the total production (Waziri et al., 2013). This unusual reliance of Afghan wheat production makes irrigated wheat crop more important from the point of food security in Afghanistan. Several new wheat varieties have been released during last decade in the country, the last one being Chonte#1 in 2010. Out of about 12 irrigated wheat varieties under certified seed production, only about eight are under breeder seed production.


Winter wheat with their higher yield potential has also been contributing to wheat production in the country. Currently country has few winter wheat varieties viz., Solh 02, Gul 96, Pamir 94 etc. These varieties have had up to 20% share in country’s certified seed production programme. Lately, varieties like Pamir 94 and Gul 96 have been showing susceptibility to yellow rust (Ahmadzada et. al., 2013) and therefore winter wheat share in certified seed has come down to about 10%.


Materials and Methods

This article reports development of a new winter wheat variety Bamyan 013, which was introduced in country during 2006-7 from Turkey-CIMMYT-ICARDA (TCI) partnered winter wheat program, Turkey. The variety being proposed was introduced at the serial no. 278 in winter wheat observation nursery with the parentage of “VORON/KUZ/4/URES/BBL//KAUZ/3/BCN”. This genotype was then tested at several high altitude locations in the country viz., Bamyan (2550 m amsl), Kabul (1841 m amsl) and Herat (927 m amsl) (Table 1) for four years. Number of test entries varied from 20 in first, second and fourth year testing whereas the third year trial comprised of 15 test entries. The popular national and international winter wheat varieties viz., Solh 02, Bezostaya and Katia were used as check varieties to compare the candidate variety.


Yield evaluation trials were laid out in completely randomized block design (CRBD) with three to four replications. Recommended agronomic practices were adopted to raise a good crop. Data were recorded on days to 50% flowering, days to maturity grain yield (kg/ha) and plant height (cm) in most trials during early evaluation trials. During the final evaluation trials other ancillary traits like 1000 kernel weight, grain color and other grain features described elsewhere in the paper were also recorded.



First year (2007-08): In the first year variety was tested at Bamyan in preliminary winter wheat yield trial (PWWYT). The trial had 20 genotypes including the check varieties Solh 02 and Bezostaya (Table 2). The average yield of trial was 9204 kg/ ha and yield of various entries ranged from 10233 kg/ ha to 7417 kg/ ha. The candidate variety yielded 9233 kg/ha against 8833 kg/ ha of Solh 02 and 7417 of Bezostaya. The candidate variety was as tall as Solh 02 at 97 cm. It matured in 206 days and attained 50% flowering in 155 days as against 207 and 154 days of Solh 02, respectively.


Second year (2008-09): In the second year variety was tested in the trial Advance winter wheat yield trial (AWWYT) at Bamyan (Table 2). The trial comprised of 20 entries including checks. The trial had an average yield of 4630 kg/ ha and entries’ yield ranged from 5343 kg/ ha to 3568 kg/ ha. The candidate variety yielded 5343 kg/ ha compared to 4724 of Solh 02 and 3663 of Bezostaya. The candidate matured in 270 days compared with 267 of Bezostaya and Solh 02.


Third year (2009-10): The year 2009-10 saw this variety tested at Bamyan in National winter wheat yield trial (NWWYT). This trial comprised of 15 entries (Table 2). The trial had an average yield of 6579 kg/ha and yield of entries varied from 8182 to 5259 kg/ha. The candidate variety yielded 7364 kg/ha against the 6575 kg/ ha and 6658 kg/ha of check varieties. The candidate matured in 258 days and attained a height of 90 cm.


Fourth Year (2010-11): The candidate variety was tested at two locations of Kabul and Herat in final year. The NWWYT of 2010-11 had 20 entries including Solh 02 and Katia as check varieties. The average yield of trial at Kabul was 4089 kg/ha whereas at Herat, the trial mean yield was 4979 kg/ha. The candidate variety yielded an average of 4600 kg/ha across two locations compared to 4388 and 4759 kg/ha of Solh 02 and Katia (Table 2).



Winter wheat is regarded to have an inherent higher yield potential as compared to spring wheat varieties. Traditionally Afghanistan has been growing winter wheat as several of its regions are suitable for growing this wheat ecotype. However, share of winter wheat varieties in national certified seed production program has declined in recent past owing to lack of suitable disease resistant winter wheat varieties. This candidate variety was therefore proposed for release as a commercial variety for production by farmers.


Yielding Potential: WON no. 278 was tested at Bamyan, Kabul and Herat, which among themselves represent winter wheat regions of the country and this variety successfully out-yielded all the check varieties by margins ranging from 4.5% to 45 % in individual years and by margins ranging from 8.2% to 31% over four year averages. The candidate variety has shown a very high level of yield stability over locations and over years as it consistently out yielded the checks. The variety was also tested in 15th Facultative and winter wheat observation nursery and yielded 6422 kg/ha across eight countries, and out-yielded Bezostaya by 17%.


Ancillary traits: The agronomic traits of the variety are in line with those adapted to Afghanistan as it compares very well with the most popular winter wheat variety Solh 02 (Table 3). It matures four days earlier than Solh 02 and is one cm taller than Solh 02. Its thousand kernel weight is also higher than Solh 02 by three grams and is resistant to yellow rust under Afghan conditions. The variety has been found resistant to Ug99 at Kenya during 2007-08 testing as part of 15th FAWON at # 35.



The candidate variety WON no. 278 introduced in Afghanistan during 2006-07 has shown highly stable yielding ability over four years of testing at three winter wheat locations by yielding eight to 31% higher than various checks. Table 4 summarizes salient features of this variety. Bamyan 013 is also resistant to important diseases including Ug99 and was therefore released by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL) of the Government of Afghanistan for cultivation by farmers during August 2013.  



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Ahmadzada Z, Obaidi MQ, Ghanizada AG, Mashook M, Azmatyar MH, Jan A, Qayum A, Mohmand E and Sharma R (2013) Reaction of some of Afghanistan’s wheat varieties to yellow rust under natural conditions. African J Agric Res 8 (14): 1255-57

Waziri A, Habibi A, Manan AR, Rabbani H, Kamalzai H, Alawi KS, Osmanzai M, Dost MA, Bakhtani N and Sharma R (2013) Making Afghanistan wheat secure by 2022. eWIS 116: 12-14.