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


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From Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture, Volume II, Seventh Edition. (2020) Edited by Kenneth J. Moore, Michael Collins, C. Jerry Nelson and Daren D. Redfearn.


U.S. gov't work


Plant breeding is human-directed evolution.This process has been used to develop all major crops and their respective races, strains, or cultivars. Although humans have successfully manipulated the genetic resources of plants for several thousand years, the science of genetics and breeding was not developed until the twentieth century. Breeding work on a few forage crops began in the early part of the twentieth century (Wilkins and Humphreys 2003). Initial work was focused on developing strains that had improved establishment, persistence, high forage yields, and good insect and disease resistance. These remain essential attributes of cultivated forages (Burton 1986). Since the 1960s, when laboratory procedures became more highly developed and amenable to high-throughput approaches, breeding objectives have expanded to include improving forage digestibility and removing or reducing the concentration of antiquality constituents.

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