Plant breeding: Discovery in a dry spell

Posted on October 18, 2013

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Performance Plants - Nature - Heat and Drought Technologies Dr. Huang, president of Performance Plants is interviewed and published in Eisenstein's article in NATURE, Outlook, Agriculture and Drought, Plant breeding: Discovery in a dry spell, Nature v501, Issue 7468. PPI is described as the “best of breed” for using genetic approaches to enhance crop yield under drought and heat stresses in this special feature. by Michael Eisenstein Improved crops have helped farmers maintain yields in times of drought. But as climate change looms, will the gains keep coming? Rice growers in the northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand have known for some time how to maximize crop yields during droughts: they cultivate their seed beds during the hot, dry summer months and transplant the seedlings at the start of the rainy season in July. Unfortunately, these strategies are increasingly ineffective in the face of highly erratic rainfall and drought patterns, and the results have been devastating. “For three years in a row, farmers have had their rice seedlings ready in the nursery but they were not able to transplant because there was not enough water,” says Arvind Kumar, a breeder specializing in drought-tolerant rice at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, the Philippines. read the full article here