Species of this species group show uniquely how – for maize or winter oilseed rape, for instance – the importance of cultivation increased drastically over the period, as a result of the progress in growing and resulting increase in profitability. The number of maize varieties increased by 16-fold (131 to 2095) and 19-fold for winter oilseed rape (19 to 721) in the East, as opposed to the clearly lower increase of threefold as many maize varieties (527 to 1473) and sevenfold as many rapeseed varieties in Western Europe. The difference between the two regions in regards to other oil crops, such as sunflowers and soya beans or even sugar beet and potatoes, was far lower for both varieties and cultivation areas.
The variety release institutions in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic agreed as part of their annual winter oilseed rape meeting to look into the genetic background of the varieties listed in their countries in more detail. One of the reasons for this was to be able to provide results to the other countries at the EU VCU Meeting for a second, more detailed stage relating to biodiversity among varieties. To do so, the anonymized pedigree data of the listed varieties were brought together and all redundancies eliminated. All winter oilseed rape hybrid varieties listed in 2015 in these countries contained 1.7 different components/growing lines per variety. These 192 rapeseed varieties came from a total of 28 different growers. Only three varieties of these hybrids were listed in all four neighbouring countries and 20 varieties in three of these countries. Similarly low intersecting sets with regards to mutual varieties were found by surveys on barley, maize, soya beans, sunflowers and winter wheat at previous EU VCU Meetings. However, these varieties have not yet been examined in regards to their variety components.
Austria can also provide figures for 1965. These figures show that there were no listings or production activities for varieties of the following crops: soya beans, sunflowers, pumpkins, winter oilseed rape, winter triticale, summer and winter wheat. These “novel” species were cultivated on an area of around 200,000 hectare in Austria in 2015, which equals about 15 percent of the total arable area (1.35 million ha). Thus, farmers can choose from a wider range of species and varieties for their crop rotation, making production more sustainable and environmentally friendly through the usage of more disease-tolerant varieties. Austrian farmers can also access an interactive webtool to facilitate variety selection for these domestic varieties.