Organic fruit breeding

Organically cultivated fruits are grown under organic conditions from the start. To date, however, there are hardly any. Organic breeding takes place through crossing and selection and interference with the DNA or the cell nucleus of the plant is not allowed.

Conventionally bred varieties usually don’t cope well with organic cultivation conditions, i.e. an increased use of pesticides and crop failures are inevitable. In addition, almost all modern apple varieties stem from the same five original varieties. This represents a genetic bottleneck and, as a result, low vitality.

Objectives of Organic Fruit Cultivation

  • Dessert apples with an appealing appearance
  • crisp and juicy thanks to firm pulp
  • a good ratio of sweetness and acidity
  • good properties for transport and storage
  • resistance or tolerance to the most important fungal diseases such as scab in order to keep the use of pesticides as low as possible and to avoid crop failure
  • high food quality
  • flowering and harvest times for specific locations and needs
  • high, dependable and regular yields

Apfel von Poma Culta
Apple appraisal from the inside

Which Varieties are Used for Breeding

  • old local varieties
  • new random seedlings that have good characteristics
  • modern cultivars

How New Varieties are Created

For a new variety, thirty to forty different varieties are gradually crossed with one another over many years. In order to combine the properties of two varieties in a targeted manner, the flowers are not allowed to bloom freely. Instead, they are pollinated by hand. With the help of a brush, pollen is transferred from the flowers of the father variety to the flowers of the mother variety. After fertilization, the young trees have to grow for several years before they bear fruit.

This takes place in parallel at different locations in order to be able to compare the respective properties. Based on these empirical values, individual varieties are selected and tested over the years. If a promising variety emerges, it is propagated vegetatively by grafting and its development is checked over the years. The development of a new, market-ready fruit variety takes a total of around 20 years.

Apfelblütenbestäubung mit dem Pinsel
Apple blossom pollination with a brush

Organic Fruit Growing Initiatives