Biomass production and related characters in the core collection of Pisum germplasm

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Retention of residue on the soil surface following harvest is an effective method of reducing soil erosion from both wind and water. The pea crop produces small amounts of residue to effectively reduce soil erosion. Severe erosion occurs in pea production areas such as the Palouse Region of the US Pacific Northwest (PNW) when low residue crops such as spring pea or lentil are followed by fall-sown wheat. The current study was conducted to determine the range of total aboveground biomass (TAB), seed yield, and straw (residue) production from the plant identification (PI) accessions that comprise the core collection of Pisum germplasm. In addition, the potential for increasing seed yield and straw production simultaneously was evaluated. Three hundred and ninety PI accessions were screened in the field in 1996 and 1997. The variation for TAB, seed yield and straw production among the PI accessions exceeded that of the controls both years. Seed yield was positively correlated with straw production (r = 0.81, p< 0.01) indicating that seed and straw production can be increased simultaneously through positive selection for both traits. Significant favorable variation is present among accessions in the USDA core collection of Pisum germplasm which could be used to increase both seed yield and total biomass production of adapted breeding lines.

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