Crop: Triticum aestivum L. subsp. aestivum (Soft wheat)

The ‘Laufener Landweizen’, named after the village Laufen near Salzburg where it was first cultivated, is an ancient winter landrace grown in the border region between Northwest-Austria and South-Central Germany. It was first classified in the 17th Century and since then has been adapted to grow in high-altitude areas. Until several decades ago, the variety had been archived for several generations at the ‘Braunschweig’ Genebank of the Federal Agricultural Research Centre in northern Germany.

The 40 seeds that were held until 1996 have been propagated and distributed among many farmers in the region. ‘Laufener Landweizen’ is characterized by its robust seed and high nutritional quality, growing up to 2 meters in height at maturity. Because of its strong root structure, it can be challenging to harvest, yet resilient against strong winds. Its quick-drying properties reduce its vulnerability to fungus outbreak following harvest. ‘Laufener Landweizen’ requires greater seed spacing, allowing for higher rainwater permeability, making the landrace more resilient to local weather conditions (such as long periods of drizzled rain or extended sunny periods). It is generally sown in the end of September and harvested in August.

The demand for this variety is growing due to its distinct nutty flavour and its multiple uses for baking. Although there is a trade-off between yields of this landrace (which are approximately 2.3 tonnes of material and 150-180 kg of seeds per hectare) and other organically produced wheat varieties, ‘Laufener Landweizen’ straw-yield can amount to more than double than that of others, broadening its application in organic agriculture.

Cultivation System: organic/low-input conditions.

Geographical Information

Country: Austria

‘Laufener Landweizen’ has traditionally been cultivated between 600 m and over 1000 m above sea-level, on the alpine fields of Bavaria and Salzburg, otherwise known as the ‘Salzach’ Hill Area, whose loose sediment brown earth allows for high permeability yet moderate water storage.

Farmer(s) description:

There are about 20-30 farmers in Austria and Germany who grow this cultivar. The largest producer of this landrace is Manfred Eisl, a farmer in St. Georgen (Salzburg), who cultivates 50 hectares of land.

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

In 1995, Heinz Marschalek, a Bavarian scientist, started with 40 seeds from the genebank Braunschweig and multiplicated year per year. After 10 years, he passed on seeds to other farmers, and multiplication since then takes place on several farms in the region.

Management plan existence:

The farmer Manfred Eisl is the official “conservation breeder” since 2016. Prior to that, several farmers already cultivated and propagated the cultivar. The cultivar is listed as conservation variety in Austria.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Four Bavarian and seven Austrian bakeries currently process ‘Laufener Landweizen’ in their enterprises and produce bread and other pastries which in average have a 15-20 % higher price than other organic bread from the region. The Austrian bakeries united under ‘BioBrot Salzburg’ and exchange their knowledge in product development.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

In fields of ‘Laufener Landweizen’ a slightly higher biodiversity and frequency of herbs could be found in comparison to other organically produced wheats, related to the reduced sowing density and the higher plants.

In Austria, under the Austrian Agricultural and Environment Programme (2015-2020), farmers are paid a premium of € 120 per hectare per year for their cultivation of ‘Laufener Landweizen.’

In 2017, a joint INTERREG collaboration between Bavaria and Austria (leaded by Biosphärenregion Berchtesgadener Land and Bio Austria) has sought to bridge the technical and market gaps between farmers, millers, brewers, and bakers. The project included over 20 actors, ranging from seed savers such as Arche Noah to gastronomy schools. The organic farmers' association BIO AUSTRIA aditionally supports the bakeries initiative ‘BioBrot Salzburg’.

On the homepage of the ‘Bayerische Akademie für Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege’ all farmers are written who cultivate ‘Laufener Landweizen’. In addition, the gene bank of Arche Noah holds the variety. It is registered as conservation variety.

Case study provided by Arche Noah, Austria