Estonian natural lucerne populations: yield ability and quality
Jõgeva Plant Breeding Institute 48 309 Jõgeva, Estonia;
With seeds collected in 2001–2002 from semi natural grasslands of Estonia, plot trials were established in 2003 in order to determine the ability of lucerne populations, their suitability for breeding purposes and prospective ways of use. In the sum of dry matter yields of the sowing year and three years of use, one natural population (Reigi) exceeded the standard variety by 6.0%, but in the crude protein yield it was within the experimental error inferior to the standard. From plant breeding perspective this population is of interest. However, it must be checked whether the location where seeds were collected was not a former sowing place of some existing foreign variety. The rest of the test ed populations can be divided into two groups based on their growth rhythm and dry matter yield: 1) with modest regrowth, predominantly yellow-flowered forms of Medicago falcata L. type spreading by rhizomes deserve attention as initial material for breeding of specific varieties for landscape management. Particular longevity of the variety and low management costs are highly valued, but the biochemical composition of the yield (dry matter and crude protein yields account for 48.0–55.7% and 49.6–59.2% respectively, compared to the standard variety) is of minor importance, 2) yellow- and multicolour-flowered populations of M. media Pers., which dry matter and crude protein yields ranged between 65.8–92.0% and 64.5–86.2% respective ly, in comparison with standard variety. The seeds of these populations can successfully be used for improvement of semi-natural grasslands on drought-sensitive light soils with neutral or alkaline reaction that are suitable for lucerne growth. Their advantage is winter hardiness , grazing resistance and longevity, and that is worth of considering while choosing initial material for breeding.