Winter wheat: a review of 15 years of variety research on extensively managed land

For a new variety of wheat to be marketable in Switzerland or abroad, it must go through a series of tests to ensure its superiority to already-cultivated varieties in terms of grain yield, quality, and resistance to disease. In this process, which is termed a «variety testing», the «best of the best» is chosen. That being said, is it possible to assign a value to this process? To answer this question, a study was conducted based on the results of all the varieties tested over the last 15 years. Three approaches were chosen to assess the variety testing of winter wheat: first of all, the number of varieties tested was compared to the number of varieties registered in the Swiss National Catalogue and in the Lists of Recommended Varieties. Next, changes in the performance of different varieties over time were calculated. Lastly, an economic approach allowed us to estimate the order of magnitude of the economic value-added achieved thanks to the sorting performed by the variety testing and the identification of the best varieties (comparison of the average gross product of the latest varieties with that of the three best varieties tested annually). The results highlight the value-added resulting from the variety study for the entire production chain, from the selector to the consumer, by way of the producer and the processing stage.

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