Enhanced drought tolerance in white clover


  • J. van den Bosch
  • I.K. Black
  • G.R. Cousins
  • D.R. Woodfield




Drought-stress limits white clover (Trifolium repens L.) persistence in many New Zealand regions. As a component of breeding for enhanced drought tolerance, 8 selection groups (110 lines in total) of white clover were evaluated in the Wairarapa over a 2-year period. The selection groups included Australian white clover ecotypes, selections from New Zealand dryland populations, root morphology selections, pre-release selections from New Zealand breeding programmes, and existing overseas and New Zealand cultivars. The selection groups derived from New Zealand dryland populations had the highest forage yield and plant survival, 21 of the 24 individual lines with >30% plant survival coming from these groups. Groups containing Australian ecotypes and overseas cultivars had the lowest forage yield and plant survival. Selections for root morphology per se were lower yielding and less persistent than selections made from New Zealand dryland populations evaluated in drought-prone environments. However, some improvements in forage yield and persistence were observed through selecting for root morphology after screening the same New Zealand dryland populations in a drought-prone North Canterbury site. Keywords: drought tolerance, plant breeding, root morphology, Trifolium repens







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