In the last two centuries, the yield of economically important crops has been substantially increased through plant breeding and optimization of growing conditions. The improvement of yield was made possible because both dryÂ matter production in the leaves and accumulation of dry matter by harvestable organs have been improved. For instance in potato, the modem cultivar (Solanum tuberosum) has a plant dry weight 10 times higher than the wild species (S. demissum); tuber dry weight, as a proportion of plant weight (i. e. harvest index) has increased from 7% to 81% (65). Through plant breeding, the genetic yield potential of wheat, soya bean, com, and peanuts has been improved by 40 -100% within this century (46). The increased grain yield of winter wheat and spring barley in England can be entirely accounted for by the increase of harvest indexes, as the biomass yield of the modem varieties is the same as that of ones bred before modem breeding was practiced (1). In general, the higher photosynthetic capacity of the modem cultivars of economic crops has been achieved mainly by increasing the light-intercepting area of leaves; this has been achieved by either increasing the number of leaves, as in
Annual Review of Plant Biology – Annual Reviews
Published: Jun 1, 1988
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