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A study was carried out to identify a variety of Gossypium hirsutum L. cotton suitable for the bimodal rainfall areas of Central and Eastern Kenya. The two objectives were to identify an early maturing variety that can be grown either in the short rains or in the long rains and to identify a late maturing variety better than the current commercial one in seedcotton yield, ginning percentage and fibre qualities. Results showed that no early maturing variety could be grown in any of the two seasons. This was as a result of poor distribution of rainfall over the growing period. Results on late-maturing varieties showed that three varieties L 142.9, L 433.15 and HART 89M outyielded UKA 59/240 in seedcotton yield and ginning percentage significantly. Their fibres were far superior in terms of length, strength and fineness than those of UKA 59/240. The three late-maturing varieties are, therefore, strongly recommended for commercial production in Central and Eastern Kenya.
Work on early-maturing varieties showed that in the southern part of central Kenya it was difficult to obtain a worthwhile crop in a single rainy season. The most promising area is in the northern part of central Kenya, where rainfall may generally be adequate over the long rains to support an early-maturing crop. However, the problem of poor lint quality is likely to remain. Further evaluation of the varieties in the long rains is recommended. Three late-maturing varieties (L 142.9 and L 433.15 and HART 89M) performed well in yield and fibre qualities over the years compared with the commercial variety UKA 59/240. They are likely to replace it soon.
The immediate solution to cotton production in the bimodal rainfall areas of central and eastern Kenya is to grow late-maturing varieties.