Investigations on organically produced cereal seed over the past 15 years have shown the importance of the control of seed-borne diseases. Although disease pressure depends on annual fluctuations caused by the weather, infestation with common and dwarf bunt (Tilletia caries/T. controversa) has increased in the last few years, with the former primarily occurring on spelt and the latter on wheat. On spelt, the cultivar «Oberkulmer Rotkorn» seems to be particularly susceptible to common bunt. Since the disease can spread very quickly through contaminated seed, it is important to use non-infested starter seed. In winters with abundant snow fall and persistent snow cover (2008/2009), dwarf bunt also occurred in lower altitudes. Problems with snow mould occurred primarily on rye, with over half of the examined seed samples frequently exceeding the threshold value. Effective seed dressings registered for organic farming are only available against common bunt on wheat and spelt; they are only partially or insufficiently effective against snow mould (Microdochium nivale/M. majus) and dwarf bunt.
Spring J.-L-, Zufferey V., Verdenal T., Reynard J.-S., Lorenzini F., Bourdin G., Blouin A., Carlen C., Jermini M., Morisoli R., Ferretti M.
Five Merlot clones bred in Switzerland are currently being distributed by the certification sector. A multiyear trial conducted by Agroscope in Gudo (Canton of Ticino) has made it possible to compare them with French and Italian reference clones and to highlight their very good performances.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are important for healthy soils and crops. A pan-European study shows that plant-protection products adversely affect these fungi, reducing their ability to supply plants with phosphorus via their roots.
Birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin are used in mixtures for perennial hay meadows and for tannin-containing fodder. Agroscope is adding two new cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil to the ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’, whilst there is no change in the case of sainfoin.