The main role of grasses, clovers and alfalfa in temperate agriculture is still to provide forage for ruminant animals but, in the last decades, the importance of amenity grasses increased markedly and, in the near future, new developments in the areas of energy and biomass use can be envisaged. "Fodder Crops and Amenity Grasses", fifth volume in the series, "Handbook of Plant Breeding", covers all these aspects. Most fodder crops and amenity grasses are perennials and many of them are natural or induced polyploids. Thus, breeding procedures and strategies differ greatly from breeding annual field crops.
Breeding objectives are more difficult to define in forage crops because direct measurement of the efficiency of animal production during breeding and variety assessment is impractical. As a result, a large number of selection criteria have been developed for the particular crops. However, breeding objectives and methodology have a common basis among these species and are therefore presented in the general chapters. Particular emphasis is placed on the breeding methodology for cross-pollinating species because the large majority of crops belong to this group.
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