An effective breeding methodology is critical in any effort to utilize native traits. Most native strains contain deleterious traits that mask the advantage of any beneficial trait. In designing our native trait development program, we have focused on three concerns:
1. Is the trait controlled by a relatively small number of genes? We have restricted our interest to only those traits that can be transferred via backcross breeding. In that way, any trait that is governed by a large number of genes is effectively eliminated from consideration. In other words, if the trait is lost in the course of backcrossing, then we were never interested in it in the first place.
2. Is the trait expressed in the original native parental material and can it be easily measured? Our single plant selection (SPS) technique eliminates much of the variability in the research plot. Thus, we can measure the effect of almost any trait that has an effect on the yield of individual plants.
3. Does the trait have a significant effect on hybrid yield? Our breeding methodology is designed to identify only those traits that have a significant effect on hybrid vigor.
The details of the overall breeding methodology and the SPS technique cannot be disclosed in this forum, but are available to collaborating companies. Most importantly, the effectiveness of the SPS technique and the general methodology is evident in the test plot data for the ESY and CT traits. FCR is licensing the SPS technique to parties interested in screening germplasm for other traits besides CT and ESY.