Breeding Cicer Milkvetch for Improved Forage Yield1
- C. E. Townsend2
Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.), a potentially valuable species, does not yield as well as the more commonly grown forage legumes when harvested for hay. In developing information to improve the hay yield of cicer milkvetch, we conducted two studies. In the first study, 109 polycross progenies from three breeding populations and three reference entries, including the cv. ‘Lutana,’ were evaluated in a spaced-plant nursery for forage yield in the seedling year and for agronomic traits related to forage production for 2 years. The mean forage yield of the population selected for excellent mature plant vigor was 115% of that of Lutana, while the yields of the two populations selected for improved seedling emergence and average or above-average mature plant vigor were 102 and 105%, respectively. During both years the tallest and most vigorous plants occurred in the population selected for excellent mature plant vigor.
Plants with excellent mature plant vigor from the previous study were selected for early initiation of spring growth or more rapid recovery after harvest or both. Fifty-seven polycross progenies derived from these selections and the same three reference entries used in the first study were evaluated in a spaced-plant nursery for forage yield for 3 years. During the first 2 years the mean forage yield of the polycross progenies was 130% of that of Lutana and the yields of individual progenies ranged from 110 to 160%. In the 3rd year, progeny yields ranged from 81 to 117% of that of Lutana. The improved performance of Lutana relative to the polycross progenies in the 3rd year was attributed, in part, to its better spreading ability. The prospects for improving the hay yield of cicer milkovetch appear promising.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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