Breeding of cereals

As for cereals, we deal with the breeding of rye, perennial rye, triticale and oat.

Breeding of rye
(Secale cereale L.)

Currently, rye is the major cereal of the lowest quality soils of Hungary, the traditional crop of our sandy soils. This reputation is due to its exceptional adaptability, which makes it able to tolerate both extreme soil properties and harsh weather conditions (strong frost, drought). In Hungary, autumn rye is sown in areas where the production of wheat or triticale is not economically viable. Initially, it develops rapidly, so it has an important role in the preservation of sandy soils and due to its good weed control ability and its resistance to diseases, it is frequently used in organic farming. Food industry utilization could be a breakout point for rye production due to its beneficial dietary effects, but its chances and production area are reduced by the increasing role of triticale in human consumption; it has similar nutritional properties but more favourable baking quality. Approximately 4/5 of the domestic rye yield is fed to animals and the rest is utilized for human consumption. With this ratio, we are far behind the 28-30% human consumption ratio of the EU.

Our rye breeding activities are in conformity with current requirements; in the course of the production of our candidate varieties especial emphasis is put on high and secure yield, proper resistance to diseases and favourable nutritional properties and baking quality.

Besides breeding, maintenance and seed production of 3 rye varieties are carried out in our Institute. Of these varieties, “Várda” (1975) is the most popular in Hungary and it is also produced in Germany and France. It distinguishes itself amongst domestic rye varieties with its reliable yield potential and stem strength. The “Kisvárdai” dual purpose rye variety has been developed to fulfil the grazing requirements of industrial animals kept on sandy soils; it has been registered in Hungary in 1988. It is the tallest Hungarian rye variety and its root weight is the highest as well, therefore its nutrient utilizing ability and drought tolerance are excellent. The “Kisvárdai short” variety has been developed for the secure utilization of strong sandy soils; it is 15-20 cm shorter than the original variety, and due to its reliable stem strength it can be produced with higher fertilization supply without lodging.

Breeding of perennial rye
(Secale cereanum)

Perennial rye is a stable hybrid variety, which originates from the crossing of the annual rye (Secale cereale L.) and the wild, perennial mountain rye (S. montanum Guss.). The purpose of its creation was the development of a new species, which –beyond its botanical significance – merges the favourable characteristics of annual rye and perennial wild rye into a perennial crop which has high yield potential, foraging value and excellent resistance and which is well utilizable on weaker sandy soils.

Similarly to annual rye, perennial rye excellently tolerates unfavourable production site properties: its wide ecological adaptation ability (drought tolerance, low demands towards soil quality) makes it suitable to be produced at production sites with extreme properties. Its high volume hay is suitable for biogas and/or energy production. It covers the soil densely throughout the year; therefore it is perfectly suitable for the preservation of soils threatened by erosion or deflation. It sprouts in early spring and it practically can be grazed throughout the year. Due to its high dry matter yield, it allows the utilization of unfavourable, poorly profitable production sites.

Breeding of annual rye has been carried out as of the 1990s in the Research Institute of Nyíregyháza, which resulted in the state recognition of the variety “Kriszta” in 1998, which is utilized individually or together with other species through the formation of high yield hayfields, pastures, soil-preserving grasslands and wild pastures. In terms of species maintenance, especial emphasis is put on the increase of useful life cycle and the reduction of ear fragility, which hinders seed production.

Breeding of triticale
(x Triticosecale Wittmack)

Triticale is the first truly successful field crop species, which was artificially created through the hybridization of wheat and rye. Triticale is a high quality feed grain, it has more valuable proteins than wheat and due to its amino acid content, which differs from that of the rest of the forages it increases the biological value of feeds. Its amino acid composition is also very favourable in terms of human nutrition, mainly due to the high lysine content. Due to the advantageous nutritional values (fiber, essential amino acids, Ca, Mg, K) it is expected that modern human nutrition culture and healthy diets will demand it as the raw material for rustic, brown breads, rich in fibre. Its flour mixed with wheat flour allows the production of a delicious, lasting bread through the addition of 25-50% wheat flour. At 25% triticale flour content, bread volume is still close to that of pure wheat bread, so the quality of the flour decreases from A to strong B1. Increasing its proportion, results in the decrease of bread, however it improves amino acid composition and increases fibre content.

The main purposes of triticale breeding carried out in the Institute are stable germination, full, wrinkleless seeds, good stooling capacity and weed supressing ability, good stability, medium tall stem, resistance to abiotic and biotic factors, excellent yield potential, good forage and/or industrial quality.

The result of our efforts so far is the excellent “Szabolcs” triticale variety, registered and patented in 2010, which was ranked the first in the variety assessment tests of HFSO in terms of both forage and human consumption qualities, and its yield potential also kept up with the control varieties. Under favourable circumstances, baking quality of the Szabolcs variety reaches the B2 category, which is a unique achievement amongst domestic triticale varieties. Irrespective of production year and production site, the variety holds a stable position in the international quality ranking. It is resistant to stem rust, powdery mildew and yellow leaf spots is average. It stools rapidly and its weed supressing ability is excellent. In the average of 3 years of HFSO tests, its yield was 6.82 t/ha and its protein content was 12-14.5 %. It is excellently suitable for both human consumption and livestock feeding. Due to its field resistance, weed supressing ability and adaptability it can be used in organic farming.

Breeding of oat
(Avena sativa L.)

The demand for oat has increased recently. It is partly used in human nutrition and as animal feed. Among eared crops, the climate of the Carpathian Basin is the least favourable for oat varieties. Production of oat varieties bred abroad is not secure in Hungary, mainly due to its inadequate winter resistance. Therefore, the most important task of breeding is the production of high yielding, large thousand grain weight, short maturity, disease-resistant and high nutritional quality oat varieties that are the most adapted to local ecological conditions. Development of environment-friendly oat cultivation technology and maintenance breeding of the “Lota” oat variety.

Updated: 2018.11.23.

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