Are old varieties less productive than modern ones? Dismantling a myth.

Published online
17 Oct 2018
Content type
Bulletin article; Conference paper

Carranza, G. & Guzmán, G. I. & Torremocha, E. & Aguilera, E. & González de Molina, M.
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Breeding programs of the Green Revolution based their success on increasing the production of harvestable biomass, in relation with non-commercial parts, of modern varieties (MV). Due to wheat's relevance in human food consumption, its varietal modification was especially intense and resulted in a remarkable harvest index increase, with the consequent decrease of straw production. The first-year results of a field experiment that compares old wheat varieties (OV) to modern ones under three different managements (traditional, organic and conventional), question the assumption that OV are less productive. They produced more biomass under organic and traditional management, and the same amount under conventional management. MV only sorted out as more productive for grain yield under conventional management. The greater OV capacity for producing biomass can have important advantages for Mediterranean rainfed organic farming in a climate change context, because it can allow maximizing soil organic carbon under low and medium inputs conditions, with benefits for mitigation and adaptation.

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