Hundred years of rapeseed-mustard breeding in India: accomplishments and future strategies



Oilseeds Brassica crops often called as rapeseed-mustard crops in India comprise traditionally grown indigenous species, namely toria, brown sarson, yellow sarson, Indian mustard, black mustard and taramira along with non-traditional species like gobhi sarson, white mustard and Ethiopian mustard or karan rai. Indigenous species have been grown since about 3500 BC. These crops are grown in diverse agro-climatic conditions ranging from north-eastern / north-western hills to down south under irrigated/rainfed, timely/late-sown, saline soils and mixed cropping. In India the research work on the improvement of rapeseed-mustard started by the turn of the 20th century at Pusa (Bihar), the then Bengal Presidency through the collection of land races and their purification. The scientific work for varietal improvement of Indian oleiferous Brassiceae started at Layallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan), then in Punjab of undivided India. This paper reviews the research and development in rapeseed-mustard breeding during the past 100 years in terms of organizational set up as well as major accomplishments in relation to genetic resource management, varietal development, quality improvement, hybrid development, improving tolerance to abiotic / biotic stresses, seed production and convergence of conventional and biotechnological approaches. Accomplishments in oilseeds Brassica improvement have been remarkable with the development of 203 agro-climatic specific varieties till 2010 including four hybrids, five low erucic, five low erucic and low glucosinolate varieties and registration of 42 genetic stocks. The paper also attempts to present future outlook and strategy for rapeseed-mustard research to enhance productivity and quality as well as stabilizing yield gains.

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