Seed World

75 Years of Experience, History and Desire to Develop Czech Breeding

Do you know where Limagrain’s robust cereal breeding program started? Thanks to favorable soil and climatic conditions cereal breeding — which has been evolving for more than 150 years — began in the Haná region in Czech Republic. At first, the main method of breeding was mass selection. In the 1880s, Emanuel Proskowetz used the method of individual selection and in 1884 the first variety, Proskowetzuv Haná pedigrée, was created. It crossed the borders of its region and became the most cultivated variety in the former Austria-Hungarian Empire.

The unique conditions and the development of the processing industry were a prerequisite for the systematic breeding of cereals, especially malting barley. Until the middle of the 20th century, breeding was essentially fragmented into smaller, often non-specialized breeding units. The specialization of the stations was necessitated by the further development of breeding.

But this story is actually about an important breeding station. Limagrain’s Plant Select Breeding Station is located in the village of Hrub ice, Czech Republic, near Prost jov, in the heart of the Haná region. Founded in 1948, it is a beet-growing production area with fertile humic soils, an altitude of 210 m above sea level, an average annual temperature of 8.6 °C and average annual rainfall of 560 mm. The breeding station initially focused on maintenance breeding and breeding of different types of field and garden crops.

In 1955, cereal breeding was moved to Hrub ice from the station in Kralice na Hané. In the breeding station’s long history, many excellent breeders and authors of successful varieties have flourished here. For example, for spring barely, the Diamond Series — since 1972, varieties such as Ametyst, Favorit, Spartan and Heran have been significantly influencing the yield and quality of malting barley production in the former Czechoslovakia for 20 years.

In the 1990s, breeding focused on the creation of intensive varieties for malting and feed purposes. Here I cannot omit the Tolar etalon variety — the benchmark of quality for Czech beer as well as the Malz variety, probably the most successful Czech variety — which is still in demand not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad. At the end of its decade, the malting varieties Radegast and Bojos were registered, followed in 2013 by another great variety, Laudis 550. All of them are recommended for the production of Czech beer; Bojos has become the most important variety for the production of classic Czech lagers with the highest quality and has been the most requested variety of important maltings. The breeding station in Hrub ice also gave rise to the popular feed varieties Aktiv, Azit and Heris.

We continue to draw on our rich history and experience to this day. Our varieties have been producing quality beer, baked goods and much more for 75 years. The desire to contribute to our society, to keep moving forward, and to deliver the best to our customers and partners has motivated us since the beginning and we believe it will continue to do so!

Věra Řičicová is the Head of Hrubčice Breeding Station