Adapting spring wheat breeding to the needs of the organic sector

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Abstract

Organic farmers and food processors need plant varieties that are adapted to their crop husbandry and processing practices. Such varieties are scarce as the mainstream breeding sector focuses on developing varieties for the conventional product chain that has different goals and practices. In this paper we study the case of the Dutch bread production chain to assess options that might enhance the availability of varieties suitable for the organic sector. The research involves an analysis of organic crop management and food processing practices and associated variety requirements. The research shows that several variety traits prioritized by the organic sector are not adequately addressed by conventional plant breeders: high baking quality, weed suppressiveness and tolerance to harrowing. Some of the interviewed conventional breeders are willing to consider technical adjustments to their breeding programmes. However, seed legislation and company economics limit the space to implement such modifications. We conclude that developing spring wheat varieties for the organic bread production chain requires breeders to prioritize selection for high baking quality genotypes that tolerate an organic weed management regime. This would require a concerted initiative of all actors in the organic bread production chain that includes establishing new socio-economic partnerships to overcome current economic and legal barriers

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
JournalNJAS Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences
Volume76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Keywords

  • Baking quality
  • Organic breeding
  • Spring wheat
  • Technology system
  • The Netherlands
  • Variety development

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