Organic plant production is currently challenged by several pressure factors. Along with perennial problems such as weed control, climate change is threatening to affect crop production through increasing weather variability. Plant breeding is a crucial factor in creating organic crop production systems that can better cope with such interacting stresses and producers need crop varieties with (a) good resistance against pests and diseases, esp. seed borne diseases; (b) the ability to react to environmental, esp. climatic variability; and (c) high competitiveness against weeds.
COBRA aims to support and develop organic plant breeding and seed production with a focus on increasing the use and potential of plant material with High genetic Diversity (Hi-D) in cereals (wheat and barley) and grain legumes (pea and faba bean) through coordinating, linking and expanding existing breeding and research. Although Hi-D-based systems have shown promising results in organic systems and are currently subject to intensive research, their benefits can at present not be exploited, due to agronomic, regulatory and other hurdles. Also, it is currently unclear which plant breeding approaches, Hi-D-based or else, are most efficient to breed varieties for organic agriculture.
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