CobraLogo5COBRA is a three year Core Organic II project that coordinates organic breeding activities with 41 partners in 17 different countries. The project has been led by the Organic Research Centre in UK. The final conference took place on 24-25th Nov. in Denmark and was attended by a large number of participants from all 17 different countries. The final conference was framed by and part of the Danish Organic Congress attended by more than 800 people. 

Breeding of plant material adapted for organic agriculture is important in order for plants to cope with stresses such as climate change, weeds and seed borne diseases. Conventional varieties may not meet the specific needs of organic agriculture. The use of plant material adapted to conditions of organic agriculture will have a positive effect on the productivity and sustainability of organic crop production.

The COBRA (Coordinating Organic plant Breeding Activities for Diversity) project has been linking up efforts in organic breeding activities in both cereals and grain legumes.  COBRA has been focusing on four major arable crops: wheat, barley, pea and faba bean.

The project has dealt with

  • seed health
  • response of crops to multiple stresses
  • improvements in breeding efficiency for organic systems
  • structural issues such as funding for breeding and the regulatory framework
  • networking and coordination

The COBRA final conference took place on 24th and 25th November as part of the Danish Organic Congress. The Danish Organic Congress was attended by more than 800 participants, and a great deal of knowledge exchange took place.

Many interesting results were presented, a few of them is mentioned here. Resistance to seed borne diseases has been investigated in several studies and Johannes Ravn Jørgensen showed that spectral imaging is a promising tool for evaluation of fusarium resistance. Simulation of extreme climate conditions has shown a general decrease in grain and protein yield under future conditions, but accessions of spring barley with valuable traits for a future climate has been identified in studies presented by Rikke Bagger Jørgensen. Odette Weedon gave insight into the cycling populations experiments. Composite cross populations showed high resistance to a new yellow rust race and outperformed references during drought stress. Paolo Annicchiarico illustrated that bulk breeding in peas is better to produce higher yielding lines and is less expensive than single seed decent breeding. Regine Andersen emphasized that breeding for diversity and breeding for conformity represents different breeding aims, and that there is a need to ensure legal space for both and that farmer’s rights are important in order to enable farmers to contribute to the protection of genetic diversity. Isabelle Goldringer stated that the involvement of multiple stakeholders in plant breeding can increase system resilience. Bruce Pearce gave insight to the temporary marketing experiment in cereal populations.


COBRA partners attending the final COBRA conference in Denmark (from left):
Robin Walker, SRUC, United Kingdom; Stéphanie Zimmer, Institute for Organic Agriculture Luxembourg; Hans Haldrup, Nordic Seed, Denmark; Aina Kokare, State Priekuli Plant Breeding Institute, Latvia,Linda Legzdina, State Priekuli Plant Breeding Institute, Latvia; Berta Killermann, Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft, Germany; Reine Koppel, Estonian Crop Research Institute, Estonia; Paolo Annicchiarico, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics Italy, CREA-FLC, Italy; Anne Ingver, Estonian Crop Research Institute, Estonia; Edwin Nuijten, Louis Bolk Instituut, Netherlands; Mara Bleidere, State Stende Cereal Breeding institute, Latvia; Rikke Bagger Jørgensen, DTU Environment, Denmark; Alev Kir, Aegean Agriculture Research Institute (AARI), Turkey; Inger Åhman, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; Ülle Tamm, Estonian Crop Research Institute, Estonia; Marja Jalli, Natural Resources Institute Finland; Johannes Ravn Jørgensen, Aarhus University, Denmark; Tove Mariegaard Pedersen, SEGES, Denmark; Bruce Pearce, The Organic Research Centre, United Kingdom; Martina Bavec, University of Maribor, Slovenia; Kevin Dewitte, Ghent University, Belgium; Silva Grobelnik Mlakar, University of Maribor, Slovenia;; Almuth Elise Müllner, BOKU Vienna, Austria; Luciano Pecetti, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics Italy, CREA-FLC, Italy; Evelyne Stoll Institute for Organic Agriculture Luxembourg; Franc Bavec, University of Maribor, Slovenia; Maria Finckh, University of Kassel, Germany; Martina Robačer University of Maribor, Slovenia;
Isabelle Goldringer, INRA, France; Nils-Ove Bertholdsson, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; Ilmar Tamm, Estonian Crop Research Institute, Estonia; Manfred Jakop, University of Maribor, Slovenia; Odette Weedon, University of Kassel, Germany; Peter Baresel, TUM, Germany; Anders Borgen, Agrologica, Denmark.

Participating, but not in the picture: Regine Andersen, Oikos - Organic Norway; Anne-Kristin Løes, Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, NIBIO, Norway; Veronique Chable, INRA, France; Karel Dewaele and Lieven Delanote, Inagro vzw, Belgium; Lene Krusell, Sejet Plant Breeding, Denmark; Frederic Rey, ITAB, France; Riccardo, Bocci, AIAB, Italy; Kaija Hakala; Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Finland; Majbritt Bergholdt, Nordic Seed, Denmark.

More info: 

The COBRA project has a website, where abstracts, presentations and videos from the final conference will be made available:


Tove Mariegaard Pedersen

SEGES Organic Farming

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