Soft wheat varieties in organic farming

09 November 2022, Swiss: FiBL Switzerland and Agroscope studied bread wheat varieties to determine their yield and quality stability. The results show that the choice of variety must be adapted to the site and that a high yield potential does not go hand in hand with a high protein content.

Under low fertility or extensive conditions such as those encountered in organic farming, nitrogen (N) limitation can lead to a decrease in grain protein content. Breeding strategies must therefore be developed to guarantee a protein content greater than 12% that meets commercial requirements.

Although wheat breeding has created new varieties that perform better and use soil nitrogen more efficiently, the performance of some varieties varies by site and is severely limited under low fertility conditions. Only a systematic analysis of the variability of wheat performance under different pedoclimatic conditions will make it possible to describe the agronomic properties of varieties under less favorable conditions.

In their article in Swiss Articultural Research, the research team comes to the following conclusions:

  • The performance of soft wheat varieties varies according to the potential of the growing site. The systematic comparison of their yield and quality stability allows us to make varietal recommendations for site-appropriate production and therefore for more efficient use of resources.
  • Despite its low yields on sites with low potential, the Molinera variety adapts perfectly to all types of soil and has a very constant protein content.
  • A variety like Aszita lends itself well to extensive growing conditions, where it may exhibit other agronomic or nutritional characteristics.
  • In the network of trials conducted on plots in French-speaking Switzerland, an optimal protein content was observed for sites with average yields (40-55 dt/ha).
  • A complementary varietal study also including marginal and extensive sites (low inputs) could contribute to the recognition of varieties with particular characteristics for organic farming.

The full article is available on the Swiss Agricultural Research website. FiBL Switzerland is a partner of the open-access online publication with Agroscope, the consulting centers Agridea and the University of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences HAFL.

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