There has been a long history for turfgrass breeding programs to evaluate, develop, and introduce turfgrass cultivars with superior traits for use on lawns, sports fields, parks, roadsides, and other landscapes. Turfgrass breeding, like any other product development activities, determines the inherent physical characteristics of the turfgrass cultivar and creates value for stakeholders in the supply chain (Solomon and Stuart, 2003). In the past decades, various turfgrass species have been developed and evaluated for pest and disease resistance (Cisar, 2010; Watkins et al., 2014), climate region adaption (Mintenko et al., 2002), and drought tolerance (Johnson, 2008), and reduced nitrogen requirements (Bonos and Huff, 2013; Johnson, 2008; Watkins et al., 2014).
The development and evaluation of new turfgrass cultivars require considerable financial inputs, along with technical knowledge, labor, and time resources. Therefore, it is important to understand which turfgrass traits are most important and have high priority from both breeders’ and seed distributors’ perspectives. A systemic understanding of the breeders’ and distributors’ trait selection behavior can provide a basis for making adjustments and improvements based on industry needs and thus accelerate the breeding process and make it more efficient. Although many studies have evaluated the performances of different turfgrass cultivars, little is known about how turfgrass breeding programs determine trait selection priorities. In practice, turfgrass breeders and distributors (market intermediates who sell turfgrass seeds) determine trait priorities based on their own experiences and insights gained from direct and indirect interactions with industry stakeholders such as producers. Nevertheless, because all parties along the supply chain (breeders, growers/producers, distributors, and consumers) play significant roles in the success of new and existing turfgrass cultivars, it is important to understand how breeders and distributors prioritize turfgrass traits and which parties affect the likelihood of turfgrass trait selection in the breeding programs.
Only a few studies have investigated the trait selection process of plant breeding programs. In 1996, Frey (1996) conducted a national survey to investigate the size of public and private plant breeding programs in the United States. The study found that a total of 2241 science person years were devoted to plant breeding, with only 55 science person years devoted to the lawn and turfgrass crop categories. Frey (1996) also found that ryegrass and bluegrasses were the turfgrass species with the most breeding effort. Gallardo et al. (2012) conducted a survey of breeders of Rosaceae species in the United States and Canada and found that consumer-driven forces positively affect the likelihood of selection for traits more than producer forces.
To our knowledge, no literature exists to investigate how turfgrass breeders and distributors prioritize turfgrass traits in their breeding or distributing programs. The specific objective of this study is to investigate the selection priorities for cool-season turfgrass traits and identify the most important factors that influence cool-season turfgrass breeders’ and distributors’ likelihood of selecting turfgrass traits. We include both cool-season turfgrass breeders and distributors because they play significant roles in determining turfgrass trait priorities. Yet, their roles are also slightly different in that distributors must make decisions about which product to sell based on which cultivars the breeders develop. We further compare the differences in breeders’ and distributors’ trait priorities and how various parties or factors affect their behaviors in different ways.
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Yue, C., Wang, J., Watkins, E., Bonos, S., Nelson, K., Murphy, J., Meyer, W. & Horgan, B. 2016 Heterogeneous consumer preferences for turfgrass attributes in the United States and Canada Can. J. Agr. Econ. 65 3 347 383
Yue, C., Wang, J., Watkins, E., Bonos, S., Nelson, K., Murphy, J., Meyer, W. & Horgan, B. 2016 Heterogeneous consumer preferences for turfgrass attributes in the United States and Canada Can. J. Agr. Econ. doi: 10.1111/cjag.12128