Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm

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Year-to-year stability of crop yields is important for farmers, and hence is an important goal of plant breeding programs. Especially in perennial crops like alfalfa farmers need to know that they can count on consistent yields over a period of three or more years. Alfalfa varieties are composed of a population of many genetically distinct plants (or genotypes), unlike corn hybrids or soybean lines, which are genetically uniform. Our goal is to determine whether the entire population of plants or single plants within a population determine yield stability of alfalfa. If varietal stability is due to the stability of individual plants in the population, then breeders can select individual plants with stable performance under many environmental conditions to use in the development of stable varieties. Conversely, if yield stability of a variety results from the interaction of many different genotypes, each of which performs better under some conditions than others, then alternative methods for developing stable cultivars must be investigated.

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Iowa State University



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