Crop Improvement

High Yielding Varieties

Intensive research work in improvement of major hill crops has led to the development and release of 136 high yielding varieties of 17 crops.  Of these, 71 have been released at state level for Uttarakhand state, 65 for the North Western Himalayan states and 28 for other part of the country also.

The most important accomplishments are listed hereunder:

  • Release of first hybrid maize variety VL Makka 54 in the country.
  • Release of first hybrid onion in the country viz., VL Piaz 67 for Uttarakhand and plains.
  • Combining winter and spring wheat genes to develop and release first early sown dual purpose facultative variety VL Gehun 616 in the country for hills. Subsequent release of VL Gehun 829 which has become very popular in the country.
  • Release of first awnless wheat variety VL Gehun 738 in the country offering protection against hail storm damage at the time of harvest in hills.
  • Release of first ever extra-early dual purpose (grain and baby corn) double cross maize hybrid variety VL Makka 42 at national level.
  • Release of first extra early sweet corn single cross hybrid VL Sweet Corn 1 in the country.  
  • Release of first extra-early double top cross maize hybrid variety Him 129 at national level.
  • Release of VL Mandua 149, a blast resistant variety of finger millet across the country.
  • Release of spring rice variety VL Dhan 206, which has replaced local cultivars in substantial area in Uttarakhand.
  • First short duration direct seeded rice variety, VL Dhan 221 for double cropping under rainfed upland June-sown conditions in hills of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Higher income generation by crop diversification through release of soybean variety of VL Soya 2 in hills.
  • Release of first black soybean (bhat) variety VL Soya 65.
  • Release of short duration pigeon pea variety VL Arhar 1 which fits well in the existing cropping system.
  • Release of two high value crop varieties VL Rajma 63 in rajmash and VL Bauni Bean 1 in French bean which have gained popularity over a wide range of environments in hills and plains.
  • Short duration garden pea variety, VL Ageti Matar 7 suitable for hills as well as plains as a better alternative by virtue of its being 5-7 days earlier and 10-15% higher yielder than Arkel.
  • Release of VL Tamatar 4 an OP variety as good as hybrid tomato in fruit yield both in polyhouse as well as open field conditions.
  • First open pollinated synthetic onion variety VL Piaz 3 for Uttarakhand.
  • First released variety of buckwheat, VL Ugal 7 for Uttarakhand.  

More than 260 q truthfully-labelled seed has been produced during 2010-11 to 2014-15. In addition, about 1281.75 q breeder and 102 q nucleus seed of various improved varieties were produced during 2010-11 to 2014-15. As a result, high yielding varieties such as VL Gehun 829, VL Gehun 907  and VL Gehun 892 in wheat, Vivek QPM 9, Vivek Makka 31 and  Vivek Maize hybrid 45 in maize, VL Dhan 208 and  VL Dhan 62 in rice,  VL Soya 47 and VL Soya 65 in soybean, VL Ageti Matar 7 in garden pea, VL Tamatar 4 in tomato, VL Mandua 324 and VL Mandua 352 in finger millet, VL Arhar 1 in pigeonpea and VL Masoor 126 in lentil have become popular in several states of the country, particularly in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim , Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

More than 14,648 native and exotic collections of 23 different field crops have been evaluated and many of these have been utilized directly and indirectly in different crop improvement programmes.  As a result, a total 31 varieties in 11 crops have been developed comprising 19 varieties by direct use of local germplasm whereas, other twelve varieties have been developed through recombination breeding.

Marker assisted selection for quality protein maize

Maize endosperm consisting of approximately 9-12% protein is, however, deficient in two essential amino acids viz., lysine and tryptophan. The low nutritive value of maize is genetically enhanced and the biofortified form known as Quality Protein Maize (QPM) contains twice the amount of lysine and tryptophan coupled with protein of high biological value. Development of QPM germplasm through conventional plant breeding methods requires enormous time, labor and land/land resources since the opaque-2 gene, which is primarily responsible for the enhanced protein quality, is recessive in nature and its modifiers behave in a multigenic fashion. DNA-based markers hold great promise in accelerating the pace of conventional breeding procedures. At ICAR-VPKAS, we have successfully converted the inbreds of one of our hybrid into QPM inbreds through MAS and the reconstituted hybrid has been released as Vivek QPM 9. This hybrid has 40% higher tryptophan and 30% higher lysine as compared to original hybrid. The hybrid has been commercialized with 6 private seed sector companies for commercial seed production.

Marker aided pyramiding of blast resistance genes in hill rice

Deployment of host resistance is by far the most effective means of controlling rice blast caused by the fungal pathogen, Magnaporthe grisea. Gene pyramiding, which refers to the combining of two or more major genes for resistance in a single plant genotype is one of the novel strategies to increase durability of resistance. A molecular breeding program with blast resistance as its principal objective was undertaken to pyramid major genes viz., Pi-1, Pi-2 & Pi-9 in a popular variety VL Dhan 206. The pyramided lines, though sub-par in yield compared to the protected check VL Dhan 206, are serving as donor stocks for blast resistance genes.

Marker aided selection for pyramiding of yellow rust resistance genes in popular wheat variety vl gehun 738

Two yellow rust resistance genes Yr5 and Yr10 were pyramided in a popular wheat variety VL Gehun 738. The pyramided lines were tested in multi-location Initial Plant Pathological Screening Nursery (IPPSN). All the lines were found to be highly resistant to yellow rust. The background recovery was from 88.4 to 97.6 % in these lines. The yield potential varied from 39.57 to 49.64  q/ha as compared to 42.90 q/ha of the protected check VL Gehun 738.