Journal Article

Combining Winter Hardiness and Forage Yield in White Clover (<i>Trifolium repens</i>) Cultivated in Northern Environments

Áslaug Helgadóttir, Petter Marum, Sigríđur Dalmannsdóttir, Kristin Daugstad, Thórdís Anna Kristjánsdóttir and Tor Lunnan

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 5, pages 825-834
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn159
Combining Winter Hardiness and Forage Yield in White Clover (Trifolium repens) Cultivated in Northern Environments

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

White clover (Trifolium repens) is an important component of sustainable livestock systems around the world. Its exploitation for agriculture in the northern, marginal areas is, however, currently limited by the lack of cultivars that combine persistence and high production potential. The aims are to investigate whether it is feasible to create breeding material of white clover for these areas by combining winter hardiness of northerly populations with good yielding ability of more southerly cultivars.

Methods

A total of 166 crosses of 14 different parental combinations between winter-hardy, low-yielding populations of northern origin and high-yielding commercial cultivars of more southerly origin were tested under field conditions in Iceland and Norway and the parental populations were compared in Norway. Spaced plants were transplanted into a smooth meadow grass (Poa pratensis) sward. Dry matter yield was estimated for 2 years after planting in Norway and morphological characters associated with yielding capacity were measured at both sites.

Key Results

The results showed that southerly cultivars had larger leaves and higher yielding potential than northern types but suffered more winter damage. Significant variation was found between full-sib families within the different parental combinations for all morphological characteristics measured in all three trials. However, it was difficult to detect any consistent morphological patterns between progeny groups across trial sites. No significant correlations were found between leaflet area and survival.

Conclusions

The present study has confirmed that it should be possible to simultaneously select for good winter survival and larger leaves and, hence, higher yielding ability under marginal conditions.

Keywords: Breeding; morphology; spaced plants; Trifolium repens; winter survival; progeny testing

Journal Article.  6875 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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