Submitted to: International Grasslands Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2005
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Controlled natural selection is an important component of forage grass breeding programs. The Peter Pitts farm provided a source of festulolium germplasm that had undergone several years of natural selection. Typically, that would be the full extent of any collaboration between a forage producer and researcher, who would return to the business of selection, synthesis, evaluation, and release of the new cultivar. However, in this case, Peter's interest persisted to the point where he wrote a successful grant proposal to the United States Department of Agriculture Small Business support program and obtained funding to conduct a freezing test of our new cultivar, Spring Green festulolium, in comparison to its parent cultivars. The test showed that Spring Green had 186% greater plant survival and 34% greater tiller survival than its parents at '11oC. A subsequent field test, in which several collaborators assisted us with field trials, showed that this translated into 30% greater survival for Spring Green at locations within the coldest hardiness zones of the USA, zones 2 through 4 (Casler et al., 2002). In addition to writing the successful grant proposal, Peter maintained some level of involvement in most aspects of the cultivar development, collecting all data for the freezing test, visiting selection and seed production nurseries in Oregon, and participating in extension and marketing programs to promote the new cultivar. Between 1999 and 2003, 260,000 kg of Spring Green seed was produced and sold, resulting in Spring Green being planted to over 15,000 ha in its short lifetime. Furthermore, due to Peter's aggressive marketing of the cultivar, 100,000 kg of organic Spring Green seed was produced in 2004, the first certified organic grass cultivar produced in North America.