Breeding Technique

Classic Breeding Method

By cultivating wild plants humans and plants have co-evolved over thousands of years and created what we know today as crops. Thousands of varieties local to a given area have resulted out of this relationship. Conscious apple breeding only developed 200 years ago, whereby apple seeds are sown and seedlings with desired characteristics are chosen for further evaluation. Desired characteristics are combined through controlled pollination. The female flower is carefully pollinated by hand with pollen from the father plant using a small brush. After fertilisation it can take many years until the small trees have reached maturity and carry fruit. The selection and examination process of these fruits in turn can take many more years. If a cross has been successful and a viable cultivar has been found it is named, registered and from here on only further reproduced by vegetative propagation.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering, promises a more efficient and economic breeding process in comparison to classical breeding methods. In the case of apple breeding for example, a foreign gene can be inserted into the apple genome, causing it to flower and bear fruit just months after the sowing. Thus vastly speeding up the process, this active gene is subsequently removed by out-breeding. By speeding up the process, successes are obtained faster and are more economically viable. Many advocates of genetic engineering believe that especially methods such as Cis-Genetics, where genes of the same species are implemented are unproblematic and should be authorised.

The organic community however, are categorically opposed to these breeding methods. The common view is that genetic material should only be transferred and changed via natural processes. It is irrelevant whether inserted genes are of the same or different species.

Globally genetic research has enormous funds and resources at its disposal. The entire genomes of more organisms are encoded frequently. With the newest technology (CRISPR-CAS) it is possible to change the position of whole gene sequences. This technology leaves no traces in the genome and thus once completed is no longer detectable. However, for the organic community the case is clear. The principles state that, the integrity of the cell within the breeding process must be protected. Therefore this technology would also fall under the category of genetic engineering methods und be unacceptable.

MAS (Marker Assisted Breeding) on the other hand should be evaluated separately. This technology is only used as a diagnostic tool, whereby the DNA is analysed to determine whether a particular gene is present or not. This information enables the breeder a more specific selection and can be helpful as well as more cost-efficient. 

Biodynamic Apple Breeding  

Poma Culta takes a holistic approach through classical cross-breeding methods. Whereby, genes are not regarded as being the reason for life, but rather a physiological expression of it. A germinating seed is the product of chaos during fertilisation realigned to a new order. This new orientation poses a host of diverse possibilities for the future development of the seedling. Additionally, the immediate environment, the climate and cosmic rhythms shape the seedling throughout its life time. The continuous transition between chaos and order and the relationship to the physical and spiritual environment are unique to biodynamic breeding methods.

The selection process of the diverse seedlings is carried out under field conditions. Selections are based not on singular traits, but instead on the whole plant as well as specific characteristics that develop due to the environment in which the plant is growing. In biodynamic agriculture the farm itself is considered an organism; within this farm setting apple breeding can fully develop and thrive to produce newly developed vigorous and resilient plant life.