EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 39 cut and carry system on dairy farms in Europa, whereas NZ is practically all grazing. DAVID LLOYD (DL): Germinal and IBERS focus mainly on breeding red clover and white clover, we also have breeding pro- grammes for hybrids between white clover and related species like Caucasian clover (T. ambiguum). ES: ARE THE BREEDING EFFORTS DIFFERENT FOR EACH OF THESE DIFFERENT CLOVER SPECIES? LC: The breeding efforts for white and red clover reflect the market demand. DL: The bulk of our effort is directed towards our core breeding programmes of conventional red clovers and small, medium and large leafed white clover. We spend roughly equal amounts of time on each, but we have additional programmes devoted to added value traits such as abiotic stress tolerance, nutrient use efficiency and resistance to specific diseases. LIBOR JALUVKA (LJ): Our plant breeding in clover is divided into two different programs. The breeding of white clover is located in Denmark and the breeding of red clover is in per- formed in the Czech Republic. Field plot testing of both species is typically done in Denmark, the Czech Republic, France, England and the US. ES: CLOVER IS ATTACKED BY SEVERAL FUNGAL DISEASES, SUCH AS FUSARIUM, SCLEROTINIA AND ANTHRACNOSE, AND MANY OTHERS. IT IS WELL- KNOWN, THAT THESE DISEASES CAUSE CLOVER TO HAVE A RELATIVELY SHORT LONGEVITY. DO YOU BREED FOR ‘PERSISTENCE’ IN YOUR NEW CLOVER VARIETIES? AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT IT? DL: We also breed for persistency and have made a lot of pro- gress particularly in extending persistency in red clover. There are a number of factors that contribute to persistency such as disease resistance, winter hardiness and tolerance of grazing. These all have different genetic bases and require different breeding methodologies. Mass selection is a very effective tech- nique for “general persistency”. NR: Yes, in white clover we are artificially inoculating trials with Sclerotinia in order to be able to remove susceptible vari- eties. In red clover we perform trials which are infected with Anthracnose. LC: ‘Persistence’ to disease involves many factors in addition to the clovers own genetic potential to be resistant to a strain of disease. The mineral content of soils, crop rotation, and sowing method are some examples that have a bearing on plant health and therefore how well clovers are resistant to disease. Because of this and the importance of also maintaining agronomic traits (yield and flowering), one of the most direct pathways to breed for persistence is by selection of certain populations, particularly in older stands of red clover, when selection pressures are higher. ES: CLOVER IS OFTEN USED IN MIXTURES WITH OTHER GRASSES. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOUR NEW CLOVER VARIETIES CAN PERFORM WELL IN A MIXTURE WITH GRASS SPECIES? LJ: In white clover, most of our breeding trials are done in a mixture of grass and clover. That way, we can select for the white clover lines for the best match with the grass. The red clover breeding is mostly done in pure red clover trials, but the final selections of the best populations are also done in grass-clover mixtures. LC: All our trials are conducted in grass backgrounds, so these are a test of how well the clover performs in a mixed sward. DL: We trial all our varieties with companion grasses (typically perennial ryegrass) and monitor the performance and quality of both species over the course of three to four years. We regard the interaction of the two species to be key to the success of a clover variety. A good clover yield is desirable, but it should never be at the expense of its companion grass. Some aggressive clover varieties have the potential to become dominant over the grass, which can be to the detriment to the sward’s overall nutri- tional balance. We also test our varieties under the conditions for which they are intended, so in the case of white clover we put them through actual animal grazing trials to satisfy ourselves that they will perform well on farm. We believe this is a unique aspect of the Germinal/IBERS clover breeding, selection and testing system. ES: IN MOST CROPS, EARLINESS IS AN IMPORTANT BREEDING GOAL. HOW IS THIS IN CLOVER? DO YOU BREED FOR EARLINESS, OR RATHER THE OPPOSITE? LC: We call earliness spring yield, and yes, this is one important goal in breeding, in order to match the feed demand and feed supply. However, a line with all-round or multiple stand out sea- sonal growth is also important. DL: Earliness has some degree of importance, particularly in red clover. Most of our varieties are early types. NR: In white clover, we do focus on early spring growth, which is a high priority especially among organic farmers, as many clover varieties start growth a bit later than the grasses. Regarding red clover, we are also focussing more on early material but some of new varieties have a later growth profile. Inoculation of Sclerotinia in white clover field trial. (Image courtesy of DLF.)