The Seed Act 1997 stipulates that the essential characteristics and properties of the varieties for cultivation as well as their suitability for certain soil and climatic conditions or uses are to be included in a descriptive list of varieties (§ 65 (3) Seed Act). This list is published annually in an updated edition (in January in excerpts, in April in a detailed version). The Descriptive List of Varieties comprises varieties of cereals, maize, grain legumes, oil plants, beta-beet, potato, forage plants and catch crops approved in Austria. In total, more than 900 varieties of about 45 species, for which the land cultural value is a prerequisite for variety approval, are characterised.
The Descriptive List of Varieties is addressed to agriculture, expert advice, the agricultural trade, the processing industry, industry as well as plant breeders, seed companies, schools and universities. The aim is an objective presentation of varieties with regard to their agronomic properties, susceptibility to diseases and pests, yield capacity and quality. Data from official value tests and other variety trials form the basis of the annual reclassification and updating of the value characteristics.
The chapters of a plant species begin with a tabular overview of the variety characteristics. They are predominantly presented with expression levels (grades) from 1 to 9. For more than half a century, the scheme "1 = generally favourable, 9 = generally unfavourable" applied. For some characteristics or special forms of use, however, this rule was not very applicable. Therefore, a change was made at the beginning of November 2018. Now, low scores mean a low and high scores a strong expression of the trait, regardless of whether this is favourable or not for the trait in question. For yield traits, nitrogen efficiency, juvenile development and many quality criteria, it required a reversal of the scale direction. For traits such as wintering out, ripening time, growth height, tendency to storage or susceptibility to diseases, the scaling remained the same.
This is followed by information on perennial yield performance in relative percentages or as differences to standard varieties. For some plant species and a limited assortment, the yields (grain yield, dry matter yield, crude protein and oil yield, beet and sugar yield, tuber and starch yield) are shown specifically for a cultivation location or a region. In some cases, yield and quality results are also presented graphically, utilisation options are described and the significance of individual quality criteria is explained.
For cereals, the Descriptive List of Varieties contains additional chapters on winter damage, performance in organic farming, yield structure and yield reliability of varieties, correction values for the nitrogen tester, instability of disease resistance, fungicide effects and outgrowth.
Furthermore, information is provided on the seed multiplication areas of the varieties, the distribution of arable crop cultivation areas and on sowing methods and sowing for numerous plant species.