Micro baking test for the development of new wheat varieties

Development of resistant ecological winter wheat with above-average baking results

The Getreidezüchtungsforschung Darzau der Gesellschaft für goetheanistische Forschung e.V. ("Darzau Cereal Breeding Research of the Society for Goethean Research") is developing a variety of wheat that can be expected to produce above-average baking results under adverse site conditions with a relatively low protein content. Such a variety must also be resistant in particular to diseases. For this, a micro baking test is to be developed so that the assessment criteria gained from it are alone sufficient to be able to develop a large number of such varieties.

For half a century the processing quality of wheat has been evaluated only on the basis of several laboratory parameters, which are determined above all from protein. More protein generates better sales for the farmer, but also requires more fertilisation with nitrogen. This is in short supply in organic farming because it is dependent on the respective soil metabolism. It is possible that this situation might be helped by better adapted varieties. Moreover, varieties for organic farming must be able to survive over the long term with this quality of seed under these conditions. For this purpose, a high level of resistance to diseases which are communicable through seeds is needed, which is why the breeding strains are tested as part of the project with respect to their vulnerability to loose smut and bunt.

With the support of the MAHLE FOUNDATION, work has being going on for the last two years to optimise a micro-baking process in order to find a type of wheat that even with relatively little gluten produces an attractive type of bread with an appropriate yield. With lower protein contents in particular it is not possible for the standard laboratory parameters to satisfactorily predict the baking result. In order to be able to perform baking trials during the variety development process, a method is required that allows a consistent analysis of several hundred samples within a reasonable period. At the same time, as little flour as possible should be needed, since in most cases there is less than 100 grams present. For this reason a micro-baking process has been developed which has already been tested in the analysis of different varieties and breeding strains and for which only approximately 20 grams of flour is required. The results are compared with the standard laboratory parameters, which are recorded at the same time.


Getreidezüchtungsforschung Darzau ("Darzau Cereal Breeding Research")

At the Darzau Cereal Breeding Research Registered Association, criteria for the cultivation of cereal in organic farming are developed in up to 10,000 parcels of land covering approximately ten hectares of trial plots. These are translated into examples of varieties which are worth cultivating. In addition to wheat, work is also carried out on various types of barley, rye, oats, einkorn and peas. Due to the fundamental and consistent focus on an ecological management process, questions arise with respect to the potential of competition from other types of plants of the same variety, for example by shading or resistance to seed-communicable diseases. Questions of resource efficiency with respect to energy, the materials or employees used play a role in the cultivation of the crops, as for example in the project currently being funded by the MAHLE FOUNDATION. Furthermore, this also relates to the question of how the breeding process itself can be made cheaper and more differentiated so that a newly developed variety does not first have to be distributed over large areas in order to be profitable.

How long has the project been in existence and what phases has it already reached?

The study of winter wheat for nutrient-poor locations began at the Darzau Cereal Breeding Research Centre as long ago as 1991. Initially a search was undertaken for types of wheat which can produce high levels of gluten even under extreme conditions. This resulted in the creation of the Golden Flower wheat variety. The search for a type of wheat which can still produce a sufficient quantity of gluten with a higher yield resulted in the Sandomir variety. When loose smut became widespread, it became clear that there was a need to breed a type of wheat which was insensitive to loose smut, from which the Govelino variety emerged. This represented a significant refinement in terms of the quantity of gluten in relation to the yield.

Where is the project being carried out?

The project is being carried out in cooperation with several organic farms in the vicinity of Darzau, on whose land different varieties, breeding strains and genetic resources of winter wheat are grown on up to 3,000 small parcels of land. Samples from two external test locations in Central and Eastern Germany are also included in this. The analyses of the cereal samples are performed in the laboratory in Darzau, where the methods are also developed.

What are the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?

The funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION are used for the creation of the field trial plots and the testing for susceptibility to diseases. In the laboratory the samples are ground and analysed. Various items of technical equipment are used for this, which have to be financed, maintained and technically refined. Overall, two-thirds of the available funds are used for personnel costs and one-third for material resources.