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Main research question/goal
What is the Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) of several agricultural crops? This VCU evaluation, guided by a European directive, precedes the inscription of new varieties to the national variety catalogue. In Belgium, ILVO is responsible for executing the official variety trials for silage maize, grain maize, ryegrasses, clover, fodder beet, industrial chicory, flax and cereals. For each new variety, a comparison with several well-performing varieties sheds light on the characteristics of the new variety. The new variety should perform better either for cultivation (yield, disease resistance, lodging, etc.) or for the valorisation of the crop or the product (quality, digestibility, protein content, etc.). A lower level of a certain property (e.g. yield) might be compensated by a specific advantage (e.g. disease resistance).  


For industrial chicory and a some ornamentals, ILVO is also entrusted by the CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office) to perform DUS (Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability) trials. This DUS trials will guarantee the breeders that the new variety is a truly new, distinct and stable variety and are conducted according to the CPVO or UPOV protocols.

Research approach
Depending  on the species, 6 to 10 trials are performed on different locations in Flanders (Merelbeke, Geel, Poperinge, Bassevelde) and Wallonia (carried out by CRA-Gembloux). In the trials, new varieties are compared to a number of standard varieties (the best varieties in the commercial circuit) according to predetermined criteria. A new variety can only be admitted to the Belgian national catalogue when the VCU and DUS trials give a positive recommendation and when the variety has an approved name. The parameters important in the VCU trials depend on the crop: dry matter yield, digestibility, maturity and resistance to stalk rot (Fusarium spp.) are important characteristics for the VCU evaluation of maize. For industrial chicory, the inulin content is a major factor. For perennial and Italian ryegrass, we evaluate rust resistance and persistency. Flax is analysed for its fibre content.

Each year an average of 10% of the new tested cultivars are admitted. Constantly demanding higher requirements to the standard varieties and criteria that respond to sustainability (quality, disease resistance, harvest security), only the best varieties are admitted to the catalogue.


Effective start/end date1/04/86 → …

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