Two generations of recurrent phenotypic selection for seed yield per plant under controlled pollination were carried out to combine improved seed yield with improved forage grass performance in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Selected and unselected varieties (AberDartand AberElan respectively) and control varieties were grown for seed in pots in a glasshouse experiment and in two field plot experiments over 5 harvest years. Seed yield components and seed yield were measured. Significant improvements in seed yield of the selected AberDart over the unselected AberElan were observed both in individual plants grown in the glasshouse and in field plots. Detailed observations of the individual components of seed yield showed that the increased seed yield of AberDart can be attributed to a higher proportion of ovules forming seeds (% seedset), greater seed number per tiller and more reproductive tillers per plant. This improvement in seed yield of AberDart was also observed when it was grown in field plots with AberElan, experimental selection lines and commercial varieties. AberDart produced more seeds per tiller than the other commercial varieties and selection lines studied. The implication of this approach for the breeding of perennial ryegrass varieties that combine good agronomic performance and acceptable seed yields is discussed.
- perennial ryegrass, phenotypic selection, seed production