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Main research question/goal
During official variety trials, how can one  optimise the evaluation system of new varieties of silage maize, fibre flax and forage grasses? By order of the Flemish Government, ILVO coordinates the official variety trials for several crops. By doing so, only the best varieties are admitted to the national variety list. Farmers rely on well-informed variety choices to obtain a profitable crop. In addition to the DUS (Distinctness-Uniformity-Stability) and VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) tests, ILVO regularly updates the evaluation procedures to remain consistent with the objectives of the sector and the policy guidelines (for example, important topics are sustainability and disease resistance).

Research approach
This research aims to develop and optimise the evaluation criteria and parameters used during variety trials. Currently, we are developing and evaluating different techniques and processes to: 1) determine the quality of silage maize; 2) evaluate the process of dew-retting fibre flax under controlled conditions; 3) measure the total fibre content of fibre flax using a specially designed delignification apparatus; 4) study high-sugar grasses under Belgian growing conditions; 5) evaluate leaf spot disease in maize.

Continuous optimization of the evaluation procedures for variety trials ensures that only the best varieties are admitted on the national catalogue and become available for the farmers. The last decade, growing new varieties has resulted in a yield increase of several forage crops with an annual rate of 1 – 2%. The rigorous evaluation processes during the variety trials contributes significantly to the profitability of farms.
Effective start/end date1/04/8631/12/17

ID: 4147256