Breeding by farmers

There are probably many examples, worldwide, of recent private plant breeding by farmers. However, most of these examples remain unknown and are likely to remain unknown. Two examples are quoted here as an example to amateur breeders who are contemplating the possibility of starting a plant breeding club.

Since the early 1970s, the late Gerrit and Evert Loo were breeding potatoes for horizontal resistance to blight (Phytophthora infestans) on their farm in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Motivated mainly by curiosity, they grew and tested true seedlings of potato, with negligible costs, using recurrent mass selection in the absence of fungicides. Gerrit's son Raymond took over this work in 1997. Their best clone was recently registered under the name of Island Sunshine.

The Polhill variety of pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cineriifolium) was produced by a farmer of that name in Kenya. This species is open-pollinated and, like maize in tropical Africa (see 7.2), it responds to selection pressures during cultivation. Consequently, it has no serious pests or diseases. Pyrethrum produces flowers that contain a mixture of pyrethrins. These constitute a natural insecticide that is completely non-toxic to mammals, and which leaves no residues. It also has a powerful 'knock-down' effect, and it is stable (see 10.6.4) in the sense that it is beyond the capacity for micro-evolutionary change of insects. The Polhill cultivar consisted of a mixture of four clones selected by this farmer on the basis of flower yield and content of pyrethrins. It was superior to anything produced by the Government pyrethrum breeders.

0 0

Post a comment