Only two or three rape seed varieties were cultivated in Austria up to 1975. The rape seed oil gained from these varieties was not suitable for human consumption. At present, 38 rape seed varieties are licensed for cultivation and the fields with the flowering plants have become a typical sight in Austria’s landscape in springtime.
Additionally, farmers are now able to choose from three to four times as many varieties of wheat, rye and corn, whichever species suits the prevailing soil and weather conditions best. AGES has been testing between 320 and 420 new varieties of agricultural cultivated crops on their country-specific cultural value -- i.e. whether they are suitable for cultivation in Austria and can be processed into food – every year for 20 years. The varieties best suited for production and the relevant region are included in the “Austrian variety list”.
Over 20 so-called conservation varieties of cereal and more than 100 varieties of vegetables have been included in the variety list, as well as specially grown varieties for cultivation under specific conditions. This makes various older varieties available for home gardening, in particular peppers, chilies, salad, tomatoes and runner beans.
Farmers can use the AGES-Sortenfinder (AGES variety finder) online to search for varieties that meet their specifications. The variety finder is based on regional yield data and provides information on winter wheat, winter barley, corn maize, potatoes, sugar beet and winter rape seed.
The cultivation of old Austrian varieties, the survival of which would otherwise be endangered, is state-funded in Austria. Forty-seven cereal, corn and millet varieties, eight buckwheat and legumes varieties, five potato and turnip varieties, seven oil and fibre plant varieties and eight vegetable varieties are registered in the Variety list for rare agriculturally cultivated varieties.