U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Vogel, K.P. 2000. Improving warm-season grasses using selection, breeding, and biotechnology. p. 83-106. In: K.J. Moore and B. Anderson (eds.) Native warm-season grasses: Research trends and issues. Crop Science Special Publication Number 30. Crop Society Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.


U.S. Government work.


Plant breeding is human-directed evolution. Plant breeders manipulate the genetic resources of a species, i.e., its germplasm, to produce plants that are of increased value to humanity. Although humans have successfully manipulated the genetic resources of plants and animals for several thousand years, the science of genetics was not developed until this century. Breeding work on most forage grasses in the USA did not began until the 1930s and initial work was focused on developing strains that had good establishment capability, persistence, high forage and seed yields, and good insect and disease resistance. These are essential attributes of forages (Burton, 1986). This initial breeding work resulted in the development of grasses such as 'Coastal' bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.), 'Lincoln' smooth bromegrass (Bromus inennis Leyss.), and 'Kentucky 31' tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) (Vogel & Sieper, 1994). Limited animal evaluation was involved in the development of these cultivars. The initial breeding work on warm-season native grasses also began in the mid 1930s as a result of efforts to reseed land damaged by erosion, i.e., the dust bowl, in the Great Plains of the USA.