Location: Dairy Forage ResearchTitle: Yield gains in cool-season forage legumes, cool-season forage grasses, and switchgrass Author
Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2013
Publication Date: 3/15/2014
Citation: Brummer, C., Casler, M.D. 2014. Yield gains in cool-season forage legumes, cool-season forage grasses, and switchgrass. Genetic gain in major U.S. field crops. Madison:ASA-CSSA-SSSA. 19 P. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Breeding new forage varieties has been an ongoing process for more than 100 years. Despite this sustained effort, little gain has been made for forage yield, with a few minor exceptions. Breeders have made significant improvements to persistence, disease resistance, and insect resistance, each of which has led to significant improvements in the stability of forage yield or the ability of a variety to deliver a high yield to growers over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, improvements to forage yield per se have occurred only in a few isolated cases, e.g. white clover, bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and switchgrass. The principal reasons for this are: (1) intense focus on other traits, such as forage quality, (2) predominant use of breeding methods that are inefficient with respect to measuring forage yield, and (3) lack of focus and long-term funding with forage-yield improvement as a specific objective. Perennial forage crops provide numerous positive services to ecosystems – improving water infiltration, limiting soil erosion, for instance – and contribute to better performance of other crops in a rotation through minimizing pest and weed pressures, among other benefits. Therefore, these systems are essential for a resilient agricultural system, and improving yield will become a more important objective for forage breeders in the future.