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Crop Variety Evaluation (CVE)

To determine the Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) of new varieties of farm crops, in accordance with EU and National Legislation, and to recommend to growers those varieties most suitable for growing under Irish farming conditions.

Crop Trials

Crop trials are carried out in the principal production areas of the country to assess varieties for characteristics of economic benefit to farmers. Crops trialled are:

  • Cereals (Barley, Wheat, Oats)
  • Grasses and Clovers
  • Forage Maize
  • Winter Oilseed Rape
  • Potatoes

The trials are carried out on Department lands at:

  • Backweston (HQ) (Co Kildare)
  • Athenry (Co Galway)
  • Kildalton (Co Kilkenny)
  • Moorepark (Co Cork)
  • Raphoe (Co Donegal)
  • A number of farms specially selected with the cooperation of Teagasc (the State Agricultural Advisory Service).

New and improved varieties from national and international breeders are assessed in field and laboratory tests. The testing involves:

Testing for VCU

The principal role of crop variety testing is to determine the Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) of the varieties put forward by breeders / seed agents for trialling. Varieties deemed to have a positive VCU under Irish conditions are then eligible for entry to the National Catalogue of Agricultural Plant Varieties (NCAPV).Only varieties of agricultural crops listed in the NCAPV, or in the EU Common Catalogue, can be marketed in Ireland. Under EU Council Directive 2002/53/EC [transposed into National Legislation by S.I. 525 of 2002], the Department of Agriculture and Food [DAF] is the competent authority in Ireland to carry out VCU testing of crop varieties.

National List Trials (NL)

DAF complies with it's obligation to determine the VCU status of varieties put forward by the breeders/seed agents, by carrying out National List trials which cover a wide geographic spread so that differences in climate, soil type, and other factors, are taken into account when evaluating a variety. Varieties are evaluated for a minimum of 2 years for yield, quality, disease resistance and other agronomic characteristics.

Recommended List Trials (RL)

For the majority of crops trialled, NL trials are combined with RL trials. Recommended List trials are carried out over a minimum of 3 years. Through these more comprehensive trials, DAF provides an independent and useful service to Irish growers whereby they can be confident that the recommended varieties will perform well under a wide range of Irish growing conditions. This confidence is reflected in the widespread use of the recommended varieties. Usage is estimated at 95% for cereals, 90% for herbages and 80% for forage maize.

Crop variety trial results are disseminated using the DAF e-zone, publication of Recommended List booklets, articles in the Farming Press, and presentations at Meetings and Open Days.

Publications and Information

CVE Publications & Information