Breeding Methodology for Autogamous Crops1
In the foregoing pages I have tried to unfold the rationale for the reorientation of the methodology for the breeding of self-fertilising crops. This is the third, and hopefully the final, occasion—the first being in 1963, and the second in 1965, on which I have taken the opportunity to make a plea for a major departure from the traditionally practised methodology for the breeding of self-fertilising crops. Will the breeders of autogamous crops take heed, or will they still prefer to trudge the same old traditional, laissez faire path of fumbling and stumbling through to success or failure—make numerous crosses on the basis of hunches, grow out in the field large or small F1 progenies, carry through individual plant selection by the pedigree method in the F2, F3 and the succeeding generations, gathering along mountains of breeding material, guided only by broad horse sense, or by what is proudly called the “plant breeders” eye, and hope for the best? Or, will they choose to be guided by the principles of genetics and breeding, take a selective, intelligent, directional approach, which breeders of allogamous crops have done so well and so successfully and from which breeders of autogamous crops can also profit ? Future alone can tell. A student practitioner in the field of crop breeding passes through two evolutionary stages, intellectually: in the first stage, his ability as a plant breeder is judged on the basis of the confidence with which he selects from within his breeding materials. In the second stage, he is judged by the confidence with which he rejects the bulk of the plethora in front of him, laying his hands intelligently on that fraction of genetic variability which will, more certainly than not, hit the bull’s eye. I prefer the latter path and would exhort on you too to take to that path of directed rationale and wise judgment.
I thank you for your patient and indulgent ears!