Genetic diversity in major farm crops on the farm and in reserve
Genetic vulnerability does not at this time present a major threat to production of United States field crops, according to a 1981 survey of U.S. crop breeding directors. But plant breeders do regard genetic vulnerability as an important and potentially dangerous problem. The 1981 survey indicated that although the genetic base of U.S. field crop production is not as narrow as in 1970, it still is concentrated on a relatively small number of favored cultivars. Genetic diversity is provided, nevertheless, in other and less obvious ways. Survey responses indicated that the genetic base of the elite germplasm pool is wider and provides more useful diversity than is usually supposed. However, breeders also value the national germplasm repositories as indispensable sources of needed diversity.