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Decades of sunflower breeding expertise to address orobanche cumana

Broomrape, or orobanche cumana, is one of the most noxious parasitic plants, threatening sunflower production across Southern Europe and the Black Sea. Damage caused by its presence can result in yield losses of up to 90%. Lidea offers its wide sunflower portfolio and extensive experience to withstand this longstanding pest.  

Broomrape originates in the Mediterranean region and has existed for more than three million years. It was identified as a threat soon after commercial sunflower cultivation started in 19th century Russia. This parasitic weed spread with the expansion of sunflower production from Russia across Eastern Europe and it is now present in the Black Sea region and Southern Europe. More virulent races have evolved over the last thirty years as broomrape rapidly spreads to new areas.

There are many strategies to manage broomrape infestation including crop rotation, as well as mechanical, biological and chemical control. However, the most effective and sustainable way is breeding to obtain orobanche resistance.

Lidea, as the third largest sunflower seed company in Europe, with a market share of 13%, takes broomrape risk very seriously. For more than 10 years Lidea has been leading breeding programmes in areas with high orobanche infestation across more than 50 research locations. This approach enables selection of hybrids with a strong genetic background adapted to local climate conditions.

To help farmers address the broomrape risk, Lidea launched the OR MASTER® solution in 2017. Today it has been updated with new resistant sunflower varieties, as more aggressive broomrape races appear, and includes two variations: OR MASTER® Premium and OR MASTER® Essential.

Many years of in-depth research and selection has resulted in effective genetic control through the presence of several genes. The resistance of OR MASTER® sunflower hybrid to broomrape has been reinforced, with multi-level defence depending on the stage of parasite life cycle.

Strengthening sustainable resistance by combining different genetics along with chemical and biological strategies enables Lidea to provide European farmers with personalised solutions adapted to specific local requirements.