How that hot new hybrid got a start
The decision on which experimental hybrids to test is made at several stages of hybrid development by the plant breeder. Some plant breeders cross new inbred lines with two elite parent lines to create potential new hybrids. Each breeder might have 400 to 500 new lines each year, thus creating 800 to 1,000 new experimental hybrids.
Next, the breeder would group these in tests of similar relative maturity and include two hybrids sold by the company, plus two competitive hybrids. Each test may consist of 40 to 60 hybrids. These tests would be planted in a single replication design at six locations.
• Each hybrid that hits the market starts as one of 800 to 1,000 experimental hybrids.
• Yield, standability and disease resistance are the main criteria in year two.
• Planting at multiple locations exposes hybrids to various environments.
Each location becomes a replication for data analysis purposes. So, if part of a location is lost, there are still five reps left of the hybrid.
Testing is the most expensive part of a breeding program. So, the goal is to eliminate as many hybrids as possible the first year. Testing at six locations exposes hybrids to more environments. Yield, standability and disease resistance are the most important criteria here. Normally, breeders discard 80% to 90% of these experimental hybrids.
Selected hybrids would be tested at 10 locations with two replications each. Yield, standability, disease tolerance, rate of dry down and test weight become important. Selected hybrids must be better than hybrids already marketed by the company.
Then comes year three. Breeders would increase the number of locations to 20 and include the best competitors’ products. Selected hybrids must compete with the best hybrids on the market in their relative maturity group.
If they do, they’ll qualify for strip-tests as pre-commercial hybrids. Up to this stage, the primary responsibility for hybrid selection rests with the plant breeders and their staff.
Nanda is a crops consultant and director of genetics and technology at Seed Consultants Inc. Contact him at Nanda@seedconsultants.com, or call 317-910-9876.
This article published in the November, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.