It was great to have the opportunity to meet and discuss the UK organic cereal sector with the organic team from KWS this week. Dom and I met Jenny Matthiesen at the Liveseeding project meeting last autumn and she had promised to visit the UK. Jenny is the Organic Manager for KWS with responsibility for making selections from the KWS breeding programmes that are suitable for organic production. We were joined by her colleagues Sandra and Harold. Sandra Dunckel takes responsibility for organics within the UK and is based in Thriplow and Harold Verstegen is responsible for organics across the whole of KWS.
KWS have an organic farm, Wiebrechtshausen which comprises 420 Ha and is where much of their organic selection is undertaken. Jenny is working with breeders and making selections of lines that will suit organic systems and these are then tested at Wiebrechtshausen and two other organic sites in Germany and increasingly at sites in France too. Their aim is to evaluate new lines across a wide range of environments in order to place this new genetic material under significant environmental selection pressure. Currently there is no such activity in the UK and KWS are investigating the UK market to understand it better with the aim to improve their work here.
Having an established network of farms on which we can undertake variety evaluation provides opportunities for them to easily access the UK market. We will be following up with them to seek to develop this relationship further to seek to help develop cultivars better suited to organic production to the UK market.