Speed breeding is an emerging strategy to develop new varieties in a shorter time. This strategy was initially developed in long and day-neutral crops by manipulating environmental conditions; for example, lengthening daily light exposure to shorten the time to flower and produce seed bringing the succeeding generation as quickly as possible. Today, this technology is being developed in short-day crops as well.
In December 2021, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated IRRI’s state-of-the-art speed breeding (SpeedBreed) facility at the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) in Varanasi.
Rice is the first crop targeted in the SpeedBreed Facility. The team led by Dr. Vikas K Singh, the regional breeding lead for South Asia, has developed protocols to get 4-5 rice generations per year in early-, medium-, and late-duration varieties. However further refinements and validation of protocols remain under process. Once the optimum conditions for short-day rice have been established, the facility will be extended to other crops in collaboration with other institutes.
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