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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #236979

Title: Using Near Infrared Spectroscopy to Rapidly Ascertain Seedling Establishment Potential in Red Clover Breeding Programs

item Riday, Heathcliffe

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2009
Publication Date: 3/4/2009
Citation: Riday, H. 2009. Using Near Infrared Spectroscopy to Rapidly Ascertain Seedling Establishment Potential in Red Clover Breeding Programs [abstract]. Presentation from the 2009 Annual Meeting in Morgantown, West Virginia. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Establishing and maintaining forage legumes in grazed pastures is important to many grazing operations. To ascertain plant breeding progress in red clover (Trifolium pratense) over the past 50 years, persistence under rotational grazing in mixture with tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) of 220 red clover populations was evaluated. This study showed that breeding has increased seedling establishment density as well as stand persistence and that initial seedling density at establishment is an important factor in longer term stand persistence. Current red clover breeding nurseries are transplanted space-plant nurseries in a dense sod forming grass such as Kentucky blue grass (Poa pratense) or a fine fescue blend (Festuca). Such nurseries are excellent for evaluating red clover biomass yield and persistence. However, establishment characteristics can not be evaluated in such nurseries. To address this shortcoming, we have experimented with using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to rapidly select red clover with higher frost-seeded establishment plant density. A pilot project was initiated in 2005 using replicated micro-plots to evaluate frost-seeded red clover halfsib family establishment. After developing this evaluation technique, 120 halfsib families were evaluated in 2008 to develop a NIRS frost-seeded establishment prediction equation. Halfsib family seed was evaluated under field conditions as well as scanned using NIRS. One hundred of the 120 families were used as a calibration set to build a NIRS equation. Using this equation, frost-seeded establishment densities of the 20 family validation set were predicted and ranked. Linear contrasts using actual field data of the 20 family validation set showed that groupings of the top and bottom 20% NIRS equation-ranked families could be statistically separated. This study provides preliminary evidence that NIRS can be used to screen seed lots for seedling vigor. These results also open the door to using similar evaluation techniques in small-seeded forage legumes that are more difficult to establish in pastures such as kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).