Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Plant breeding

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Whether he has known it or not, man has influenced the evolution of plants throughout his whole existence. In the pre-agricultural state he collected fruits and seeds from plants chosen for their useful or desirable qualities, and dispersed them wherever he went. With the neolithic revolution and the development of agriculture, some of these plants were taken into cultivation.

Consciously or unconsciously he selected types with higher yield, which germinated readily when planted, and whose seeds stayed in the head at maturity rather than being shed as in the wild grasses and legumes. Over thousands of years this "guided evolution" produced our crop plants as we know them; many so changed that their relationship to their primitive ancestors can hardly be recognised.

First in a series of articles describing the work of the plant breeder, with special reference to crop and pasture plant breeding in Western Australia.