Historically, winter wheat has constituted the basis for a lot of cereal production. Winter wheat is now used to a great extent for the production of feed and ethanol, as well as being used in the mill and bakery industries. Ethanol is used to produce vodka and as a fuel additive.
Development of hardy, disease-resistant varieties for cultivation areas in North and Central Europe is based in Svalöv, Sweden. These varieties have to produce a very high yield and be of a quality suitable for feed and ethanol production.
A range of demands are made of the various qualities bread wheat may have so that the bakeries can bake breads to fit in with the cultural habits in different countries. In general, the falling numbers, protein content and protein quality are the most important selection criteria for bread wheat varieties. Winter wheat which maintains intervention quality or better makes the wheat easier to place on the export market in the EU and – in some cases – outside the EU as well.
Ethanol and feed quality
For wheat varieties destined to be turned into ethanol or feed, a high starch yield is sought after in combination with good resistance properties. In future, research into starch quality in wheat will probably lead to the development of varieties with starch qualities adapted depending on whether it’s for use in feed or ethanol.
To obtain a stable yield with low fungicide use, resistance against fungal diseases is very important. In the north, resistance to common bunt, mildew, striperust and yellow leaf spot are the most important. For the more southerly areas, resistance to mildew, striperust, brown leaf rust and Septoria tritici are the most significant.
Fusarium is a disease which has moved further and further north in recent times, and nowadays it can be a problem in wheat cultivation throughout Europe. Some very hazardous toxins can form during an attack of fusarium. A number of factors affect the development of the fusarium fungus, mainly precipitation during flowering, for fruit and cultivation – but also the choice of variety can make a difference. This is why varieties that are as resistant as possible are available for all areas.