, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 81–87 | Cite as

Heritability of frost-seeded red clover establishment

  • Heathcliffe Riday


In the colder parts of the United States (north of 32° N latitude and east of 92° W longitude), in late winter after disappearance of snow cover, red clover (Trifolium pratense) is often broadcast seeded into forage legume-depleted grass pastures to increase pasture forage quality. This method of establishment is referred to as frost seeding. However, in an estimated 30–40% of frost seeded pastures in Wisconsin, USA the legumes fail to establish. In this study 40 red clover halfsib families from one breeding population and ten check populations were evaluated for spring frost-seeded establishment in three environments. Seedling establishment counts and plant heights were measured 3 months after frost-seeded planting. One of the three environments experienced a stand establishment failure. Narrow sense heritability estimates on a halfsib family basis for stand counts and heights were 0.07 and 0.63, respectively. Seedling counts were greatly affected by environment with micro-environmental effects contributing to low heritability. Additive by environment genetic variance was large, again leading to low seedling count heritabilities. These results, based on one population, suggest that it may be difficult to select for increased frost-seeded seedling establishment and that many test environments are needed to achieve genetic gains for this trait. In comparison, seedling height was very heritable with relatively small additive by environment genetic variances. The genetic correlation between seedling count and height using frost-seeded establishment was r A = 0.42.


Red clover Frost seeding Seedling establishment Heritability Seedling vigor 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Dairy Forage Research CenterUSDA-ARSMadisonUSA

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