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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: DEVELOPING AND EVALUATING GRASSES FOR GRAZING

Authors
item Vogel, Kenneth
item Mitchell, Robert

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2006
Publication Date: August 8, 2006
Citation: Vogel, K. and R. Mitchell. 2006. Breeding Grasses for Improved Beef Cattle Income per Acre. p118-129. Proceedings Sixth Annual Nebraska Grazing Conference, Kearney, Nebraska. August7-8. Center for Grassland Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.

Interpretive Summary: Developing and Evaluating Grasses for Grazing Ken Vogel & Rob Mitchell Abstract and Interpretative Summary (use same paragraph for both) Plant and animal breeding is man-directed evolution. This process developed all major livestock classes and crops and their respective breeds, varieties, or cultivars. Breeding work on a few forage crops began in the early part of the 20th century. Initial work was focused on developing strains that had improved establishment capability, persistence, high forage yields, and good insect and disease resistance. These remain essential attributes of cultivated forages. In the last 40 years, breeding objectives have expanded to include improving forage digestibility and removing or reducing the concentration of anti-quality factors. Forage breeders attempt to modify plants for traits that have economic value. The USDA-ARS grass breeding project at Lincoln, NE has focused on improving both forage yield and quality of cool- and warm-season grasses for the Midwest and the Central Great Plains. Trailblazer switchgrass was the first sexual grass species that was developed in the USA for improved forage digestibility. For years, it has been the most widely grown switchgrass in the Great Plains. Manska intermediate wheatgrass which has improved forage digestibility has been the most widely grown intermediate wheatgrass in the Great Plains. It is expected to be replaced by Beefmaker and Haymaker intermediate wheatgrasses which have greater forage digestibility and yield, respectively. Bonanza and Goldmine are new big bluestem cultivars with improved forage quality in comparison to the cultivars they were designed to replace. Because of the grazing and economic information available on these new cultivars, seed demand greatly exceeds seed supplies. It is possible to develop pasture grasses that have improved value when used in well managed grazing systems. Seed of these grasses may cost more than seed of older grasses varieties. Livestock producers are well aware that cheap bulls and replacement cows can be very expensive if they lack desirable genetic traits. Cheap seed can have the same effect on seeded grassland profitability.

Technical Abstract: Developing and Evaluating Grasses for Grazing Ken Vogel & Rob Mitchell Abstract and Interpretative Summary (use same paragraph for both) Plant and animal breeding is man-directed evolution. This process developed all major livestock classes and crops and their respective breeds, varieties, or cultivars. Breeding work on a few forage crops began in the early part of the 20th century. Initial work was focused on developing strains that had improved establishment capability, persistence, high forage yields, and good insect and disease resistance. These remain essential attributes of cultivated forages. In the last 40 years, breeding objectives have expanded to include improving forage digestibility and removing or reducing the concentration of anti-quality factors. Forage breeders attempt to modify plants for traits that have economic value. The USDA-ARS grass breeding project at Lincoln, NE has focused on improving both forage yield and quality of cool- and warm-season grasses for the Midwest and the Central Great Plains. Trailblazer switchgrass was the first sexual grass species that was developed in the USA for improved forage digestibility. For years, it has been the most widely grown switchgrass in the Great Plains. Manska intermediate wheatgrass which has improved forage digestibility has been the most widely grown intermediate wheatgrass in the Great Plains. It is expected to be replaced by Beefmaker and Haymaker intermediate wheatgrasses which have greater forage digestibility and yield, respectively. Bonanza and Goldmine are new big bluestem cultivars with improved forage quality in comparison to the cultivars they were designed to replace. Because of the grazing and economic information available on these new cultivars, seed demand greatly exceeds seed supplies. It is possible to develop pasture grasses that have improved value when used in well managed grazing systems. Seed of these grasses may cost more than seed of older grasses varieties. Livestock producers are well aware that cheap bulls and replacement cows can be very expensive if they lack desirable genetic traits. Cheap seed can have the same effect on seeded grassland profitability.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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