Austrian seed production

Corn harvest
Photo: BMLRT

General information on holdings involved in seed production and plant breeding

The Austrian seed industry supplies Austrian farmers with certified, officially recognised seeds. Overall, seed worth around EUR 140 million is sold in Austria every year.

Similar to other countries in Europe, the required volumes are procured as certified seed when it comes to open pollinated varieties, such as cereal or legumes - in some cases less than 50%. The remainder is harvested from certified seed that has been planted.

A main argument for the use of certified seed is that it constitutes a source for new high-yield, disease-tolerant or high-quality cultivars. Only through seed change does variety change become possible and is breeding progress achieved.

Thus, over recent years, the mean quality wheat yield has increased by 35 kg per hectare and year and the milling wheat yield in wet areas has increased by 70 kg per hectare and year.

Saatzucht Donau, a subsidiary of Probstdorfer Saatzucht und Saatbau Linz, is Austria's largest cereal breeding business. Alongside them, Saatzucht Edelhof is also successfully breeding local cereal varieties. Maize, forage crops, field beans, soybeans, rapeseed, poppy, oil squash, potatoes and vegetables are also bred in Austria, in addition to cereals.

In Austria, between one third and one fourth of the varieties certified by the authorities originate from primary Austrian breeding stocks.

Roughly two thirds of the seed produced in Austria is propagated using cooperative material (RWA, Saatbau Linz, Kärntner Saatbau, Saatbaugenossenschaft and Tiroler Saatbaugenossenschaft)

The propagation area fluctuates at around 30,000 hectares from year to year. Some 6,000 farmers propagate seed for Austrian holdings.

The area available for bioseed and maize seed propagation (checked for GMO contamination, see link to Maßnahmen zur Verringerung von GVO-Verunreinigung in Saatgut [Measures to reduce GMO contamination in seed]) is growing continuously. Austria is the main bioseed maize supplier in the EU.

In addition to propagation, the seed is also processed and dressed in Austria. All things considered, around 25 holdings are involved in plant breeding, seed production and direct seed marketing.