Breeding perennial ryegrass Lolium perenne L for turf usage an assessment of genetic improvements in cultivars released in Europe, 1974–24
An assessment of genetic improvement in turf-type perennial ryegrass was performed at a network of six locations. A comparison was made of the turf performances of five natural populations, five forage-type cultivars used for turf seeding until the 198s and 31 turf-type cultivars released from 1974 to 24. Populations and cultivars were also compared in two spaced-plant experiments and in two seed-yield trials. Trait regressions on registration year of turf-type cultivars showed that breeding had been highly successful in improving the turf aesthetic merit (from +8 8 to +12 5% per decade according to seasons), wear tolerance (+5 4% per decade) and crown-rust resistance (+8 9% per decade) and in lessening the turf height increase rate (? 43 mm day?1 per decade). Turf winter greenness had been marginally improved, whereas summer greenness and seed yield had not been significantly changed. A multivariate analysis provided evidence that turf density and fineness played a major role in the visual assessment of turf aesthetic merit and that wear tolerance was closely associated with turf density. Conflicting trait associations may have precluded improvements in turf ground-cover 3 months after sowing, turf winter greenness and turf persistency.