The objective of the Crop Development research focus area is to improve cultivars. Gene frequencies are constantly manipulated to develop new genotypes that will produce more efficiently under existing or potential environmental conditions.

The germplasm collection is the heart of the breeding programme and is constituted from sources throughout the world. New cultivars that combine characteristics such as yield, quality, disease and pest resistance are continuously being developed. This research focus area operates in collaboration with the Crop Protection research focus area when breeding for resistance against pests and diseases.

All cultivars undergo Distinct, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) tests by the South African National Seed Organisation (SANSOR). The DUS test is required to ensure:

  • that the candidate cultivar does differ and is distinct from any previously registered variety
  • that the morphological variation in the new cultivar does not exceed the registration limits or the description as supplied by the source/breeder; and
  • that the cultivar is stable.

    Prior to release, cultivars are registered and acquire Plant Breeders Rights.