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‘Madiira 1’ undergoing changes to satisfy both vegetable and seed producers

Amaranth cultivar ‘Madiira 1’ was released in 2011 by the Tanzanian Horticultural Research and Training Institute (HORTI-Tengeru) from WorldVeg lines. Farmers value this cultivar for its high yields of tasty leaves.

However, ‘Madiira 1’ is not popular with commercial seed producers because of its slow growth; flowers develop late and open at different times, and seed yields are low. They prefer a vigorous, fast growing plant.

Recognizing these concerns, Amaranth Breeder Fekadu Dinssa, based at the World Vegetable Center Eastern and Southern Africa in Tanzania, crossed ‘Madiira 1’ with vigorous grain amaranth lines that produce abundant seed yields. Amaranth flowers are very small and crossing amaranth plants is a difficult task. It is also difficult to discern if a cross between two parents has actually occurred.

Many single crosses were attempted in 2015 and early 2016. Six F1 populations were developed and confirmed to be true crosses because of the presence of seedling color and leaf shape traits from the male parent.  The F1 plants were allowed to self-pollinate to generate many new genetic combinations. F2 and F3 generations displayed considerable variability in stem, panicle, and seed coat colors; leaf shape, length and width; plant height; and stem and panicle branches. Among these were plants that showed the desired qualities of ‘Madiira 1’ as well as strong seedling vigor and high seed yield. By using these plants for further breeding, Fekadu expects to produce an improved ‘Madiira 1’ in 2-3 years.


Story and photos: Fekadu Dinssa and Peter Hanson


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F3 plants of ‘Madiira 1’ crosses. (above) The red/pink color and improved panicle size are from a grain type parental line, while the branching habit, lanceolate leaf shape, green stem, green leaf and yellow panicle colors (below) are from ‘Madiira 1’. A green plant with improved early biomass accumulation ability and seed yield is the ideal target.