Breeding organic winter wheat for dry low input conditions

With available winter wheat varieties it is very difficult to get baking quality on sandy soils in north-east of Germany under organic farming. Usually more starch related to gluten content is produced and the minimum level of 21% of wet gluten is ordinarily missed. In addition most of the farms in this area have relatively low amounts of organic fertilizers, because they cannot keep many cows on small areas of grassland and low yielding fodder crops. For this reason in particular high quality organic winter wheat varieties are necessary to get flour for the market demands. At Cereal Breeding Reseach Darzau we try to develop such winter wheat varieties with high baking quality when grown on poorer grounds. In addition we select for resistence to loose smut and common bunt because continuous multiplication of seed under organic farming becomes more practically. Because high gluten content is only possible with lower yield and relatively week gluten, but not every field or farm needs the highest quality, we developed a concept of two-line-seed, which needs two wheat varieties. One variety on a subprime quality level and one variety with a high quality level. The subprime variety gives basic yield on a gluten level just above the border on medium grounds and the high quality variety lifts the gluten content up to necessary amounts. Results up today showed that in most cases with only 30% of the high quality varietey mixed under the seed of the subprime variety it is possible to get best baking quality with only 5% less yield related to the variety with better yield but lower gluten content.
Scientist interested in doing research with our varieties under similar circumstances are welcome.

Last changed: 22.11.2012

Quality wheat breeding

On the sandy and drought-prone soils in Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg - these are the locations and regions that the Darzau Cereal Breeding Research focuses on for wheat - it is still a challenge to produce winter wheat with the qualities required for processing under ecological conditions. On these non-typical wheat locations, for example, it is not easy, with any degree of certainty, to produce the high levels of wet gluten required for further processing at a satisfactory yield. The wheat type for this region differs from the common wheat type. Special requirements have to be met: it has to be a free-threshing wheat variety which, with the necessary stability, is capable of delivering sufficient quality and yield with the scarce nutrient reserves.


However, the development of new, adapted varieties also involves quite different issues. For example, how these varieties, which have been developed exclusively under ecological conditions, can even be cultivated on large areas. All too often, wheat diseases, such as wheat fly blight, which is transmitted via the seed, prevent the marketing of seed. For even three ears of wheat suffering from the disease lead to the withdrawal of seed. In order to address the problem of seed-borne diseases, which have become or may become a problem again in organic farming and organic seed management by dispensing with chemical seed dressings, considerable effort is being put into developing resistant varieties. This requires a lot of preparatory work, such as testing wheat varieties for susceptibility, in order to be able to find the right parents for crosses. This example shows that it is also necessary to work on issues that are actually basic research. This makes the Darzau Cereal Breeding Research a true cereal breeding research institution. The questions dealt with often go beyond pure breeding. The question of how to optimize the cultivation itself is also raised. With sowing dates and sowing rates, the farmer has further instruments at his disposal to optimize his cultivation. These questions were investigated in a seed-time trial.


These few examples show that we see our tasks not only in the development of new wheat varieties, but also in the very comprehensive sense of trying to create the foundations that can improve ecological winter wheat cultivation at these locations.

In the following we would like to present various results on winter wheat from the research and breeding work of the Cereal Breeding Research Darzau.


Last updated : 05.12.2012