42 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM NR: As long as the present UPOV rules not are changed, we have no problems. ES: WHICH KIND OF INVESTMENTS IN TIME & MONEY (ON AVERAGE AND ROUGH ESTIMATES) DOES IT TAKE TO DEVELOP A NEW CLOVER VARIETY? LJ: Breeding clovers is a slow process. To create a new variety from scratch takes around 14 years, including 3-4 years of reg- istration in official trials. LC: Each clover line takes 11 years to develop. As the clovers we breed are bee-pollinated, spreading plants that produce hard seeds (particularly white clovers), investments in a range of pollination cages, short and long tongue bumble bees, and specialised field equipment are necessary. DL: It takes roughly 15 years from initial crosses to produce a new variety that can be marketed. The financial cost of this can vary but it is substantial. ES: HOW DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION MAKE SURE THAT YOUR FUTURE PRODUCTS ARE ALIGNED WITH WHAT THE GROWERS WANT? LC: We have field agronomists, sales, and seed production teams who interact with growers, farmers and re-sellers. They are also encouraged to visit our research station, so there is a flow of information and ideas in both directions. DL: The Breeding Team at IBERS works closely with our com- mercial partner Germinal to ensure understanding of on farm requirements from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and further afield. It is vital for the breeding programme that the varieties produced are commercially beneficial for the farmer and make a difference to financial performance of farms, whether domes- tically or overseas. NR: We are having annual meetings with our product managers. The product managers are present in many countries and are working directly with farmers. They know the demand for future traits and it is valuable information for the plant breeders. ES: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR A BREEDER WHEN DEVELOPING A NEW CLOVER VARIETY? DL: Breeding is a long process. It can be difficult to judge what the market will need in 20 or 30 years that will suit the require- ments of a changing market. IBERS therefore works closely with Germinal to ensure that possible future trends are identified and addressed within the breeding programme. LJ: To combine a high dry matter yield with a high seed yield – and to foresee new demands and developments. LC: Agronomic traits of clover and many plants are on the opposite ends of the pendulum. Flowering and persistence for example are on opposite ends to the yield trait. Whilst breeding can push these traits closer, it is a slow process as obtaining the extremes of these agronomic traits is against the natural pendulum. ES: WHAT ARE THE INNOVATIONS (TECHNOLOGICAL, GENETIC, MOLECULAR ETC.) WHICH ARE IN THE PIPELINE IN CLOVER BREEDING? NR: Genome Wide Selection will the next technology added to the clover breeding. LC: In recent years, genomic selection and hybrid breeding research have come into the clover breeding pipeline helping accelerate traditional phenotypic based clover breeding and screen the diverse genetics available in other white clover species. DL: Plant breeding is at the beginning of a new era with the advent of genomic selection. This will give us the ability to assess the overall breeding value of individual plants on the basis of their genetic sequence without having to assess them in the field and measuring different traits over several seasons. This will allow us to look at more material, improve the efficiency of selection and speed up the overall breeding process, resulting in better varieties coming to market far more quickly than they currently do. Harvest white clover yield trial. (Image courtesy of DLF) β€œIt takes roughly 15 years from initial crosses to produce a new variety that can be marketed. The financial cost of this can vary but it is substantial.” – Dr David Lloyd Red clover. (Image courtesy of Barenbrug)