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Maize Breeding Program at TAMU!

For those not familiar with maize breeding and the equipment used this may be a useful resource for a cursory overview - at least of TAMU's public breeding program. We begin with seed preparation from the nursery and end with harvesting yield trials. This section (much like the whole site) is very much under construction.

Here is a presentation on the program given to Dr. Steve Hagues 2013 undergraduate plant breeding class

Please Note: Some links below may be broken as this section is under construction

Four main types of plots are planted in the program - there is overlap across some of these:

1. Nursery - Small plots (15ft, 25 seed in College Station) hand harvested for:
A) evaluating new material (obtained from cooperators, USDA-GRIN, or our own crosses)
B) crossing to generate new segregating populations from which we will select
C) seed increases - replenishing our stock seed of inbred lines / populations

2. Crossing Block - a subset of the nursery. Here we produce small to large quantities of hybrid seed to put into yield trials. We use this, rather than an isolation block (#5 below) when there are multiple pollinators rather than just one.

3. Yield Trials - Medium to large plots (2 row or 4 row, 20 - 45ft each) which will be harvested using a combine to collect data on how they will yield and perform in a growers field. Mostly used in a public program to identify superior inbred lines not for finding the best hybrid combinations.

4. Phenotyping Nursery - Mostly for plant genetics rather than plant breeding. Much like the nursery above, these are often smaller plots that will normally be hand harvested (if harvested at all). The goal of phenotyping is to measure relevant traits (aflatoxin, stem sugar, height, etc.). This is often done to identify genetic correlations or quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Phenotyping is done in all three above (nursery, yield trials, phenotyping nurseries) to some extent.

5. Isolation Blocks - To produce hybrid seed of a sufficient quantity to test, with only one pollinator, the least labor intensive way possible. The female plants are all detasseled so they do not contribute (male) pollen. Almost always a single elite (high quality) inbred line will serve as a pollinator and will not be detasseled. This method for producing seed is much less work than hand pollinations and is useful for producing large quantities of seed when flowering time dates coincide (a good nic)

 

1. Seed Preparation

Seed preparation is essentially the same nurseries and yield trials.

2. Planting and Agronomics

The process of getting the seed into the ground.

3. Pollinations

Hand pollinations are usually done only for the nursery and phenotyping nurseries. Yield trials are allowed to open pollinate as they would in a farmers field.

4. Phenotyping

The most varied of the activities which involves measuring any traits of interest (height, flowering time, stem sugar, aflatoxin, etc.). This can happen any time from plant emergence to after harvest.

5. Harvest

Hand harvest for nursery and isolation blocks. Combine harvest (as a farmer would) for yield trials. We also use an ear picker for hybrid seed production.

6. Seed Processing and Storage

Usually only for the nurseries and isolation blocks where seed is to be saved for growing the following year. Yield trials seed is genetically mixed and only useful for selling as animal feed (again as a farmer would).

 

 

 

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