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  • Author: Arta Kronberga x
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One of key questions in breeding for organic agriculture is about most appropriate selection environment. A successful man-made cereal species, triticale (Triticosecale Wittm. ex A. Camus.) - is very suitable for growing in organic crop management systems but little research has been conducted on breeding triticale for organic agriculture. Field trials were carried out in Priekuïi during 2009-2012. One hundred F4 winter triticale lines were sown in conventionally and organically managed fields. Selection of the approximately ten best lines in each environment, according to breeders’ opinion with respect to suitability for organic conditions, was made. The selected lines were compared in both organic and conventional fields. The study did not show that there was a need to create varieties for organic farming by selection of triticale in the initial generations in organic fields.

Use of DNA markers for cereal line uniformity assessment

Prior to the registration of a new variety, it is required to undergo Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing. Preparing a newly developed variety to meet the requirements of DUS testing is a lengthy process, particularly regarding aspects of uniformity and stability. Field testing of a large number of lines is time and resource intensive. In addition, the expression of certain traits may be influenced by environmental conditions. The use of DNA markers may allow rapid assessment of the level of genetic diversity within a particular line or variety, and to remove individuals that are genetically differentiated, thus accelerating the homogenisation of a newly developed variety. In this study, we utilised AFLP and the iPBS marker techniques to assess genetic variation within advanced breeding lines of several cereal species (triticale, wheat, barley). The combined use of molecular and morphological selection over three years of analysis and selection resulted in the reduction of genetic diversity within breeding lines.

Employing cereal genetic variation in breeding programmes for organic farming is one of the ways to create varieties with higher stability and adaptability. The aim of the study was to compare and evaluate grain yield, quality and other traits of barley pure lines, hybrid populations, variety mixtures, as well as winter wheat hybrid populations and parental varieties, in organic and conventional farming systems. Significant evidence for advantages of using barley mixtures and populations under organic and conventional management systems was not observed. More advantages with respect to yield, adaptability to unfavourable environments and TGW were observed for breeding lines selected for suitability to organic conditions. Combination of distinctive genotypes may result in a fairly stable mixture with average yield above the components. The study confirmed that resistance of winter wheat genotypes to abiotic stress is one of the significant traits that is closely connected with limitation of the wheat productivity in both growing conditions. Yield and grain quality value of winter wheat genotypes was lower under organic conditions compared to a conventional growing system. Advantages of populations were not observed under organic conditions, but significantly higher yield, in comparison to parental varieties, was obtained for two populations in conventional conditions. In general, the yield of populations was intermediate to that of the parents.

Diseases of rye (Secale cereale), an important crop in Latvia, might be a risk factor for rye production. The aim of the study was to determine features of rye leaf diseases, to estimate the risk of rye diseases under conditions of Latvia, and to compare various schemes of fungicide treatment that possibly might be useful for integrated disease control. Field trials were carried out from 2009 to 2012 in two locations in Latvia - State Stende Cereals Breeding Institute and State Priekuïi Plant Breeding Institute. Sixteen trials (two cultivars each year, two sites, and four years) were established during the investigations. Each trial was one-factor design with three variants of fungicide treatment: control (without fungicides), standard treatment during heading (GS 51-55), and DSS (Decision support system). Leaf scald caused by Rhynchosporium secalis and brown rust, caused by Puccinia recondita, were found to be the most important rye diseases during the study. Average additional yield achieved by fungicide application was 8%. Number of rainy days (more than seven, starting from GS 31) was not a sufficient threshold for the control of rye diseases. It was necessary to make assessment of the disease development in the the field. Fungicide application might be necessary if symptoms of leaf scald appear on the youngest leaves after beginning of stem elongation (GS 31-32).

The State Priekuïi Plant Breeding Institute (previously Wenden, Cçsis or Priekuïi Experimental and Breeding Station) started its operation in 1913. The main aims of research have remained the same for the last century: to provide knowledge on crop management and to create crop varieties suitable to local growing conditions and farming systems, acceptable to consumer requirements. Supply to farmers of high quality seed material of cereals, potato, pea, clover and grasses is an essential part of the scope. Overall, 31 crop species have been involved in a wide range of studies. More than 100 different crop varieties have been bred since the beginning of the 20th century. Potato varieties ‘Brasla’, ‘Agrie Dzeltenie’, winter rye variety ‘Kaupo’, pea varieties ‘Vitra’, ‘Retrija’, barley variety ‘Idumeja’ and several clover and grass varieties are widely grown in farmers’ fields. The first hulless barley variety in the Baltic States, ‘Irbe’, and winter triticale variety ‘Inarta’ have been bred in the Institute recently. Long-term crop rotation trials have been run for more than 50 years. A number of outstanding scientists and agronomists have worked in the Institute: potato breeders E. Knappe and V. Gaujers, cereal breeders J. Lindermanis, M. Gaiíe, and M. Sovere, grass breeders P. Pommers, A. Apinis, and I. Holms, pea breeder M. Vitjaþkova, researchers on crop management R. Sniedze and V. Miíelsons, research manager and director U. Miglavs and others


Triticale (× Triticosecale Wittm.) is mainly used for animal feed, but recent studies have shown its possible beneficial effect for human health. The objective of this study was to investigate the nutritional quality of triticale grown under different cropping systems in Latvia. Two winter triticale varieties, ‘Inarta’ and ‘Ruja’, were cultivated in 2014 and 2015 under conventional and organic cropping systems. Protein, starch, and total dietary fibre were determined using standard methods. Ultrasound assisted extraction was used for isolation of phenolic compounds. Total phenol content (TPC) and radical scavenging activity in extracts were determined spectrophotometrically. Overall, the highest content of protein, TPC and ABTS cation scavenging activity occurred in triticale harvested in 2014, due to favourable weather conditions (warm weather and more precipitation in June–July) for accumulation of these compounds during grain filling. Higher starch content in all studied samples harvested in 2015, as compared to 2014, was explained by higher precipitation in July 2015. The type of cropping system had no significant effect (p > 0.05) on protein and starch content, while TPC, DPPH, and ABTS·+ scavenging activity was influenced by cropping system, depending on variety.

The objectives of the investigation were to identify competitive traits in cereal species in order to contribute to development of a methodology for evaluation of cereal genotypes for their competitive capacity against weeds, which is important for organic breeding aims. The investigation was carried out with spring barley, spring oat, winter triticale and winter wheat genotypes in organic crop rotations in two different locations. Relations between crop traits and weed dry weight were evaluated by Pearson correlation coefficients. The results stressed the significance of some crop traits for cereal competitiveness against weeds for organic breeding purposes: (i) growth habit, canopy height, and crop development rate for spring barley; (ii) crop development rate for spring oats; (iii) winter hardiness and the coefficient of tillering for winter triticale, and (iv) winterhardiness, the coefficient of tillering, the number of productive stems, crop canopy and plant height for winter wheat. It coud be useful to include measurements of crop ground cover for estimating competitiveness of cereal species against weeds