There has been considerable activity in breeding orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) cultivars in North America during the latter half of the 20th century, but little effort devoted to quantification of breeding progress. The objectives of this study were to quantify changes in mean cultivar performance for that time compared with the progress achieved from one cycle of half-sib progeny selection within the USDA population of orchardgrass accessions. Forty-two cultivars (32 North American cultivars and 10 European cultivars) were tested at three locations (Arlington, WI and Rock Springs, PA, and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) in 1995 through 1997. Cultivars were grouped into three experiments by maturity class: early, medium, and late. North American cultivars averaged 3, 9, and 12% higher in forage yield than European cultivars for early, medium, and late maturity groups, respectively. Between 1955 and 1997, forage yield and ground cover of early-maturity cultivars increased by 2.5 Mg ha-1 decade-1 and 4.0% decade-1, respectively. Forage nutritional value of medium-maturity cultivars increased during that time, although this was probably not due to direct selection. Significant gains were made in forage yield and Drechslera spp. leafspot reaction of cultivars derived from two individual breeding programs, although the majority of orchardgrass cultivars lack improvements in forage traits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science