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Book: Crop Breeding
Published by: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America


This chapter in CROP BREEDING

  1.  p. i-xii
    Crop Breeding

    D. R. Wood (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-563-5

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Front Matter


The accelerated pace of research, augmented by sophisticated instrumentation and techniques, and new opinions, imparts to crop science a rapidly changing character as new discoveries replace and/or add to former concepts. New findings force us to reevaluate and often reconstruct the foundations of modern crop science.

The Teaching Improvement Committee of the Crop Science Society of America identified the urgent need for developing contemporary reading materials aimed at upper level undergraduate college students. A current presentation of the dynamic state of modern crop science is a formidable challenge worthy of the best talents of eminent research and teaching personnel in the field. This task necessitates assembling the most capable representatives of the various disciplines within crop science and bringing them together in teams of writers to prepare a series of publications based on contemporary research. The Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy have undertaken this large assignment by selecting more than 100 specialists who will contribute to making the Foundations of Modern Crop Science books a reality.

The authors and editors of this series believe that the new approach taken in organizing subject matter and relating it to current discoveries and new principles will stimulate the interest of students. A single book cannot fulfill the different and changing requirements that must be met in various programs and curricula within our junior and senior colleges. Conversely, the needs of the students and the prerogatives of teachers can be satisfied by well-written, well-illustrated, and relatively inexpensive books planned to encompass those areas that are vital and central to understanding the content, state, and direction of modern crop science. The Foundations for Modern Crop Science books represent the translation of this central theme into volumes that form an integrated series but can be used alone or in any combination desired in support of specific courses.

The most important thing about any book is its authorship. Each book and/or chapter in this series on Foundations for Modern Crop Science is written by a recognized specialist in the discipline. The Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy join the Foundations for Modern Crop Science Book Writing Project Committee in extending special acknowledgment and gratitude to the many writers of these books. The series is a tribute to the devotion of many important contributors who, recognizing the need, approach this major project with enthusiasm.

A. W. Burger, chairperson

D. R. Buxton

C. O. Qualset

A. A. Hanson

L. H. Smith


From the test tube to the harvest, the science of crop breeding is alive and well. People have always expected crop breeding to enhance agriculture by providing improved crops for all kinds of situations. Recent breakthroughs in recombinant DNA research together with more conventional breeding techniques promise continued progress in the future.

As the science of crop breeding has grown, practitioners have developed a comprehensive literature; their breakthroughs have resulted in major contributions to society; and new disciplines have emerged.

The theoretical foundations of the science are unique and challenging. The landmark discoveries in genetics and evolution by Mendel and Darwin, partly motivated by their interest in the improvement of domestic plants, are still the foundation of crop breeding. As sophisticated molecular genetic techniques, such as gene splicing, come closer to application in plant breeding the synergistic relationship between crop breeding and genetics becomes more important.

Statistical techniques have become increasingly important as tools for plant breeders. Since the early work of “Student,” Fisher, Snedecor, and many others in evaluating new strains of crops, statistics has developed as a respected science important to many disciplines beyond agriculture.

Crop breeding must be described in broader terms than applied genetics or directed evolution. It certainly has human and social relevance for our world's survival and well-being. Early plant selections were made to meet basic human needs for food, fiber, and shelter. New uses will continue to be discovered as crop breeders focus on the uses and productivity of our plant resources. Changes in agriculture, crop production, and in standards of food quality will require crop breeders to continue to respond to the needs of agriculture and society.

The centerpiece of crop breeding, and the focus of this book, is the cultivar. The word, a contraction of cultivated variety, has been adopted by the Crop Science Society of America following the International Code of Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants as the appropriate word for scientific use. In papers intended for the lay public or non-scientific community, the term variety is the most desirable synonym. (For a discussion of this point, see Weiss, M. G. 1972. Cultivar vs. variety. Crop Sci. 12:551.)

This book was designed to complement textbooks used for crop breeding courses, primarily those for junior and senior undergraduates in agriculture. Outstanding crop breeders were asked to write about specific areas related to their work, including examples and anecdotal material. As you share in the experiences of these breeders you will gain new insights about this important science and we trust you will be rewarded with exciting glimpses of new frontiers in crop breeding.

You will find some of the more technical words defined in a glossary of terms along with a list of scientific names in the back of the book. A mastery of this language will put you on speaking terms with others in our profession.

Donald R. Wood

Marcile N. Wood

- Fort Collins, Colo.

Kanti M. Rawal

- San Leandro, Calif.


Burton, G. W., Research Geneticist, USDA, ARS, Coastal Plain Station, Tifton, GA 31793

Busey, Philip, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Research Center, University of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314

Frey, K. J., C. F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

Gengenbach, B. G., Professor, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

Harpstead, D. D., Chairman, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Hooker, A. L., Bioscience Director, Dekalb-Pfizer Genetics Inc., St. Louis, MO 63141

Jain, S. K., Professor, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616

Jensen, N. F., Emeritus Professor, Department of Plant Breeding and Biometry, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Ladd, S. L., Professor, Department of Agronomy, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523

Morris, Rosalind, Professor, Department of Agronomy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583

Paule, M. R., Professor of Biochemistry, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523

Poehlman, J. M., Emeritus Professor, Department of Agronomy, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

Quick, J. S., Professor, Department of Agronomy, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523

Rasmusson, D. C., Professor, Department of Agronomy, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

Rawal, K. M., Plant Breeder, Del Monte Corporation, San Leandro, CA 94577

Sigurbjörnsson, B., Director, Agricultural Research Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland

Wood, M. N., Vocational Education Consultant, Ft. Collins, CO 80526



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