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Breeding Bread-Making Wheat Varieties for Organic Farming Systems: The Need to Target Productivity, Robustness, Resource Use Efficiency and Grain Quality Traits

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Leo RempelosORCiD, Enas Sufar, Mohammed Almuayrifi, Andrew Wilkinson, Gultakin Hasanaliyeva, Dr Paul BilsborrowORCiD, Dr Stephen Wilcockson, Dr Nikolaos Volakakis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 by the authors.Agronomic protocols (rotation, tillage, fertilization and crop protection) commonly used in organic and conventional crop production differ significantly and there is evidence that modern varieties developed for conventional high-input farming systems do not have the combination of traits required for optimum performance in organic farming systems. Specifically, there is evidence that prohibition on the use of water-soluble, mineral N, P and K fertilizers and synthetic pesticide inputs in organic farming results in a need to revise both breeding and selection protocols. For organic production systems, the focus needs to be on the following: (i) traits prioritized by organic farmers such as high nutrient use efficiency from organic fertilizer inputs, competitiveness against weeds, and pest and disease resistance, (ii) processing quality parameters defined by millers and bakers and (iii) nutritional quality parameters demanded by organic consumers. In this article, we review evidence from variety trials and factorial field experiments that (i) studied to what extent there is a need for organic farming focused breeding programs, (ii) investigated which traits/trait combinations should be targeted in these breeding programs and/or (iii) compared the performance of modern varieties developed for the conventional sector with traditional/older varieties favored by organic farmers and/or new varieties developed in organic farming focused breeding programs. Our review focuses on wheat because there have been organic and/or low-input farming focused wheat breeding programs for more than 20 years in Europe, which has allowed the performance of varieties/genotypes from organic/low-input and conventional farming focused breeding programs to be compared.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rempelos L, Wang J, Sufar EK, Almuayrifi MSB, Knutt D, Leifert H, Leifert A, Wilkinson A, Shotton P, Hasanaliyeva G, Bilsborrow P, Wilcockson S, Volakakis N, Markellou E, Zhao B, Jones S, Iversen PO, Leifert C

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Foods

Year: 2023

Volume: 12

Issue: 6

Print publication date: 01/03/2023

Online publication date: 13/03/2023

Acceptance date: 27/02/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2304-8158

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/foods12061209