The development of a white clover for use in the eastern high potential areas of South Africa.
The problems associated with the use of white clover in pastures in the eastern high potential areas of South Africa i.e. high P requirements, low tolerance to high Al levels and low pH in the soil as well as a limited survival time of approximately 30 months, were identified and found to be related to the inadequate root system of white clover cultivars. During the improvement programme cultivars available on the world market were introduced and evaluated under dryland conditions. Selections were made from these introductions on the basis of root conformation in high AI, low pH soils, their response to grazing and induced moisture stress. A laboratory technique for the improvement of Al tolerance was developed and the tolerance of white clover plants to high levels of Al was improved but due to the complexity of pasture plant improvement it was decided that the selection for tolerance to Al could be more effectively carried out in the field. The effectiveness of vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizas as phosphate gatherers indicated that local strains of mycorrhizas combined as effectively with white clover as the imported strains. As no seed production of white clover is undertaken in South Africa guidelines for local seed production were also established. As a result of the improvement programme, Trifolium repens cv. DUSI was developed as an open pollinated synthetic variety, based on thirty eight selected mother lines. DUSI has a greater tolerance to high AI, low pH, low P in the soil and due to an improved root system with a high percentage of secondary taproots produces better under dryland conditions and has a longer stand life than any of the cultivars of white clover available on the local market. Plant Breeders Rights were obtained for cv. DUSI and the cultivar was inscribed on the South African variety list. Limited amounts of Breeders seed have been made available to the South African Forage Seed Association for commercial seed production.