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Producing high value plant breeding material suited to Irish tillage systems

Producing high value plant breeding material suited to Irish tillage systems

Dan Milbourne, Teagasc, Oak Park

The Virtual Irish Centre for Crop Improvement (VICCI) was a 5 year DAFM funded initiative, ending in 2020, which sought to support the development of crop varieties specifically adapted to the challenges facing Irish tillage agriculture. In addition to the development of genomics-based and phenotypic selection tools, an important objective of VICCI was to identify and develop advanced breeding material and varieties of cereals, beans and potatoes that will contribute to the above objective. For winter wheat, significant advances were made in the identification of plants exhibiting high levels of resistance to Septoria tritici blotch. VICCI also allowed the development of a starter breeding population of faba beans that has been selected for Irish conditions, and the development of disease resistant potato germplasm that could support import replacement. Heritage lines of wheat, barley and oats exhibited variation for resistance to Fusarium head blight, and a large collection of barley varieties was tested for nutrient use efficiency and cold and flooding tolerance.  Activities in VICCI also enabled the development of novel initiatives whereby advanced commercial breeding lines of wheat and barley are trialled by Teagasc, enabling the early identification of potential Irish adapted varieties.