Disease Resistant Grass Variety Aids Grazers

UK - Plant breeders from the AgriFood and Biosciences Institute are pushing on with the development of new grass varieties that are well adapted to local conditions. These varieties are being very widely used on farms throughout the Province.
calendar icon 18 December 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

While the main breeding objectives are high yield and persistency, increasing effort is being directed into producing varieties with improved disease resistance.

During the past two years, the warm, wet conditions which have prevailed during the summer months have been perfect for the development of leaf spot caused by the fungus Dreschlera siccans on silage and grazing swards. This disease occurrence was not confined to Northern Ireland but was also widespread in Great Britain, from Aberdeen to Devon, and also in the Republic of Ireland.

The typical symptoms of black speckles and yellowed leaf blade were especially noticeable on swards when grazing or silage cutting had been delayed due to poor ground conditions. In severe cases, the leaf tissue was completely killed.

In a recent trial at AFBI Loughgall, clipped samples from leaf-spot infected swards were carefully separated into healthy and diseased material. In the most severely infected case, 62% of the leaf material was infected or dead. This high level of disease has obviously major implications for sward productivity and animal performance.

The present procedure at AFBI Loughgall for breeding disease resistant varieties is to select mother plants that are highly resistant to leaf-spot and subsequently test progenies of these in field plots.

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