A replicated trial of 18 families of Navy-bean breeding lines in the F4 generation was grown at Cambridge. The selection-index technique was used to investigate means of improving the efficiency of simultaneous selection for four criteria, namely yield, seed shape (numerical scores from ‘good’ to ‘poor’), early maturity and increased height of pod tips. Relative economic weights were chosen. The yield components and a range of characters describing plant type were measured making 15 characters in all, and combinations of these were included in 32 indices.
It was predicted that simultaneous selection would be limited by adverse correlations between some of the four selection criteria, especially early maturity and height. The estimated efficiency of selection would hardly be improved by including information on the yield components. Combinations of the plant type characters, on the other hand, were predicted to provide considerable additional advance amounting to a 10% improvement when information on total number of nodes and inflorescences and hypocotyl diameter was included.
It was concluded that the time involved in collecting yield component data would be better spent collecting information on a limited number of plant type characteristics in future trials, and that an ideal plant was one with reduced branching and a few heavily podded inflorescences borne on a tall plant with a strong base.