Increasing climatic variation has had, and will continue have an impact on crop production and the economic viability of farmers. A way to insure against these impacts is to increase the diversity on farm. Increased genetic diversity within the crop can be a component of this. Genetic diversity can be delivered by growing a greater number of crops or varieties separately or as a mixture or by growing composite cross populations (CCP).
Since 2001 the Organic Research Centre has developed CCPs of winter wheat in organic and low input systems. Aligned with this work are activities with UK and EU policy makers to address the EU legal framework that would allow for the marketing of populations. After nearly 15 years of work we are now at a point where some cereal CCPs can be marketed under a temporary marketing experiment.
The paper will cover the production and development of the populations as well as an analysis of their performance along with insights into the development of new seed regulation policies as well as our initial experiences of working within the new marketing experiment.