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Fox/JKI
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Professor Reinhard Töpfer, one of the most renowned and best-known grapevine breeders in Europe, is retiring. For 29 years, he headed the Julius Kühn Institute's (JKI) Institute for Grapevine Breeding at Geilweilerhof in Siebeldingen, where he shaped the research and breeding of fungus-resistant varieties (Piwis) and championed the introduction of new varieties to the market.

Töpfer is an expert in plant genetics, developed new breeding strategies and promoted digitalisation in research. The JKI's gene bank collection contains around 3,800 grape varieties, wild species and valuable breeding strains. These include many with resistance to mildew fungi. They form the basis for breeding new grape varieties. Under Töpfer's leadership, the following new varieties from the JKI were granted variety protection: Felicia (2004), Reberger (2004), Villaris (2004), Calandro (2011), Calardis Blanc (2018) and Calardis Musqué (2023). Two further breeding strains have been registered for variety protection.

Precision breeding is the order of the day for Töpfer: "The challenges facing viticulture have always been great. But the progress in grapevine breeding over the past decades has been enormous and the foundations have been laid to effectively meet the growing challenges. The key to viticulture is adaptation. Climate change and sustainability will dictate the question of varieties in the viticulture of the future. These two challenges will inevitably lead to a change in varieties over decades." However, new approaches to marketing are also required, because "breeding will deliver new and better varieties faster than viticulture can develop marketing concepts for individual varieties."

Prof Reinhard Töpfer was given a ceremonial farewell at a specialist colloquium on 18 April and will continue to experiment and work with Piwi varieties on his private vineyard.

(al / Source: JKI)

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