Review of seed yield components and pollination conditions in red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) seed production

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Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is an important forage legume grown in many of the temperate regions around the world. In order to evaluate possible causes for the low seed yield in particular in tetraploid red clover, we surveyed 71 studies of red clover seed production published from 1948 to 2019, reviewing seed yield components, pollination and reproductive traits. Seed yield components are recorded to contribute to and improve our understanding of the complex processes leading to the red clover seed yield. However, the measurement approaches varied largely among the studies, depending on whether the seed yield components are directly measured or calculated. Red clover seed production is dependent on insect pollen transfer. However, much uncertainty of pollination and reproductive success remains. Pollination conditions were often neglected: one third of the papers did not mention pollination conditions. The information that connects pollination and seed set are lacking, very few studies measured traits in floral morphology, ovule fertilisation and seed maturation. We suggest that consistent and comprehensive evaluation of pollination and reproductive success are required to improve our understanding of reasons for the low seed yield in red clover and hence the possibilities for future improvement.

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