Regeneration guidelines for forage grass genetic resources

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Contributors to this page: ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Jean Hanson); CIAT, Cali, Colombia (Daniel Debouck, Rainer Schultze-Kraft); Bioversity International/ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Alexandra Jorge).

Before reading the regeneration details for this crop, read the general introduction that gives general guidelines to follow by clicking here.


Most forage grasses are maintained as seeds except for few shy seeders that rarely produce seeds or produce seeds without caryopses. These should be maintained in field genebanks using similar procedures to those described below for regeneration. Several forage grasses have seeds which are short-lived and back-up collections are also retained in field genebanks. Grasses belong to a wide range of genera and over 600 species are currently used for grazing and livestock feeds. With such a wide range of diversity, specific conditions and methods are required for each species. These general guidelines are only indicative and specific information should be sought in the literature whenever possible.

Choice of environment and planting season

Planting season

Preparation for regeneration

When to regenerate

Field selection and preparation

Select the environment and soil type best suited for the species. Information on adaptation of species can be found from the Tropical Forage ( and the FAO Grasslands Index ( websites.

Other precautions

Method of Regeneration

Planting layout, density and distance

Planting method

Direct sowing

Seedling transfer

Crop management


Weed management



Common pests and diseases

Forage grasses are susceptible to many fungal diseases and few viruses and phytoplasma (see table).

Pest and disease control


Post-harvest management

Monitoring accession identity

Comparisons with previous passport or morphological data

Documentation of information during regeneration

The following information should be collected during regeneration:

References and further reading

Click here for a list of selected references on breeding systems in forage grass species.

Bray RA. 1983. Strategies for gene maintenance. In: McIvor JG, Bray RA, editors. Genetic Resources of Forage Plants. CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. p157-168.

Dafni A, Firmage D. 2000. Pollen viability and longevity: practical, ecological and evolutionary implications. Plant Systematics and Evolution 222, 113–132.

Fairey DT, Hampton JG,  editors. 1997. Forage Seed Production volume I:Temperate Species. CABI International, Cambridge, UK.

FAO/IPGRI. 1994. Genebank standards. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome and International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome. Available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

Friedman J, Barrett SCH, 2009. Wind of change: new insights on the ecology and evolution of pollination and mating in wind-pollinated plants. Annals of Botany 103, 1515-1527.

Hacker B, Hanson J. 1999. Crop growth and development: reproduction. In: Loch DS, Ferguson J, editors. Forage Seed Production vol II Tropical and Subtropical Species. CABI International, Cambridge, UK. pp. 93-111.

Humphreys LR, Riveros F. 1986. Tropical Pasture Seed Production. FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper 8, FAO, Rome, Italy. 203pp.

ISTA. 2008. International Rules for Seed Testing. International Seed Testing Association. ISTA secretariat, CH-Switzerland. Available from:

Loch DS, Ferguson J, editors. 1999. Forage Seed Production vol 2. Tropical and Subtropical Species. CABI Publishing, UK.

Neal PR, Anderson GJ. 2004. Does the `Old Bag’ make a good `Wind Bag’?: Comparison of four fabrics commonly used as exclusion bags in studies of pollination and reproductive biology. Annals of Botany 93, 603-607.

Thormann I, Metz T, Engels JMM. 2004. The Species Compendium (release 1.0; December 2004). [online] Available from: Date accessed 17 Jan 2011.

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The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.