Interspecific hybridisation with Trifolium nigrescens Viv. is a possible strategy to improve the reproductive potential of white clover (Trifolium repens L.). Following the development of a fertile F1 hybrid, three generations of backcrossing have been carried out usingT. repens as the recurrent parent. Vegetative characteristics, stolon growth and seed yield components of the backcross (BC) 2 and 3 generations, as well as the parental species were measured on spaced plants grown in the field. Leaf size and plant spread of the BC2 and BC3 generations were less than T. repens but there was no difference in plant fresh weight. Numbers of inflorescences per plant and florets per inflorescence of the backcrosses were greater than T. repens however this was not reflected indifferences in seed yield per plant asT. repens had more seeds per floret and per plant than the backcrosses. Differences in stolon length, the proportion of flowering nodes and the pattern of axillary bud development were observed between T. repens and the backcrosses. Significant variation among the BC 3 generation for vegetative and reproductive traits was observed. Individual plants among the BC 3 generation were identified that combine high forage yield, substantial inflorescence production and good fertility, and these will form the basis of further selection.
- interspecific hybridisation, reproductive traits, seed yield, Trifolium nigrescens, white clover