We breed and develop high quality, healthy, adapted and high yielding varieties with 12 of cereals, oil and protein crops with the help of modern technologies, taking advantage of the synergies offered by the different locations of Probstdorf and Reichersberg and in close cooperation with partner companies and research institutes.

Optimal marketing of those varieties at home and abroad shall let agriculture as well as owners and employees of Saatzucht Donau profit by the accomplished advance in breeding.

Why breeding?

Breeding is applied research and development!

New plant varieties increase both yield and product qualityand require a lower input due to their improved productivity.

A new variety will only be released after several years of official testing if it is distinct from all other varieties, uniform and possesses an added value for cultivation.

Our breeding material which has been adapted to local condition over years of selection is our basic capital. The traditional breeding methods are complemented by modern technologies and an intense international exchange.

By introducing new sources of yield, resistance and quality and subsequent selection at different sites distributed over Austria it becomes possible to find new, unique (re)combinations of variety characteristics.

The breeding process of a new cereal variety takes 10-15 years. A clear orientation towards specific goals and long term planning are essential for success. The breeder has to be able to foresee the variety characteristics of importance in 10 to 15 year's time, define them as breeding goals and realize those goals with appropriate measures in the nursery.

Participation in a number of research projects leads to a constant increase of the level of technology at SZD. If our aim is to remain competitive it becomes necessary to apply the best available techniques. We cooperate with universities and research institutes at home and abroad. In that way we are combining our long term experience with the latest technologies. No genetically modified varieties are being bred at SZD. The main focus lies on healthy, high quality varieties with a wide adaptability that are well suited to integrated (low input, low fertilizer and pesticides) production. In addition we breed varieties especially adapted to organic farming.


1st of July 2000 the two companies Probstdorfer Saatzucht and Saatbau Linz joined their forces in breeding and variety development of cereals, oil and protein crops. SAATZUCHT DONAU GesmbH & CoKG was founded to increase the force and efficiency of the respective breeding programs.

Within this new company the respective 50 years of breeding tradition of the mother companies will be continued while their activities regarding production, marketing and sales of seed will continue as before independent of each other.

With the foundation of Saatzucht Donau the mother companies cease to enter any breeding lines of crops dealt with by SZD. This function is now solely exercised by SZD in Austria or by partners companies abroad.

At present there are breeding lines of SZD in official trials in Austria (see also varieties), Germany, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Serbia, Romania, Lithuania, England, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Turkey and Poland.

In the years 2003 – 2015 251 varieties have been registered in Austria for Saatzucht Donau. 90 varieties among them are bred by Saatzucht Donau. Beside this there were 153 registrations from the breeding programs of Saatzucht Donau in 13 European countries (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, France, Slovenia, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania). In the last years we could register 2 winter wheat varieties in Canada and 1 winter wheat and 2 winter barley varieties in the Asian Part of Turkey. By that means Saatzucht Donau is now present with its varieties on 3 continents.

Organisation of SAATZUCHT DONAU

Organisation of Saatzucht Donau

Breeding Stations

Breeding Stations of Saatzucht Donau


The Probstdorf breeding station lies about 15 km east of Vienna, near the northern shore of the Danube in the agricultural region known as Marchfeld. It is characterized by a continental climate and alluvial soil on gravel. The soils are quite variable from slightly loamy sand to sandy loam with the soils score ranging from 35 to 75 at a pH value of 7,0 - 7,5.
145-152 m above sea level

average yearly temperature 9,7° C (rising)
average yearly precipitation 546 mm

High temperature differences between winter and summer, between day and night as well as a very variable distribution of precipitation can make plant breeding difficult. The area cultivated by Saatzucht Donau in and around Probstdorf lies around 40ha.

Breeding programs at Probstdorf:

Weizen Züchtung Probstdorf
Quality winter wheat

Traditionally the focus of the winter wheat program in Probstdorf has lain on high quality wheat suited for the Pannonian region. The leading varieties since the 1950ies were bred almost exclusively in Probstdorf reflecting its ideal location with regard to soil and climate for the selection of quality wheat. With a constant increase in yield the challenge lies in maintaining the superior quality of the varieties (e.g. CAPO, JOSEF) or even improving on specific aspects of quality e.g. for export to Italy.

Besides the above mentioned awned wheat varieties the internationally most successful variety bred in Probstdorf is the awnless LUDWIG. LUDWIG is cultivated on large areas and registered in Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Croatia and Hungary.

LUDWIG and CAPO are both characterized by a wide ecological adaptatability and are successfully grown in organic farming. Since 2002 the breeding of varieties specially suited for organic farming presents a new challenge.

Several ten thousand observation units are grown every year for the quality wheat breeding program to select for winter hardiness, vigor and resistance against stress, lodging and diseases. In addition several thousand lab analyses are necessary to select best qualities.

Important recent registration are the high quality varieties ASTARDO and ANTONIUS, which are both classified with baking quality class 8 in Austria (registered in 2003). ANTONIUS has also been registered in the meantime in France and Slovenia.

The varieties PANNONIKUS, LUKULLUS, MIDAS, ANGELUS, LAURENZIO and MESSINO are the most recent releases out of this program (2008 to 2014). They are a great leap forward with regard to yield in quality group 7.

In the segment of the highest baking quality the new varieties ARNOLD (quality group 8), ADESSO (quality group 8) and ALBERTUS (quality group 9) were registered between 2010 and 2012.

The 2 new very high yielding and early maturing varieties BALITUS and GAUDIO have been registered in Hungary in 2014 and could hopefully become leading varieties in east and south east Europe.

Six rowed winter barley
Six rowed winter barley
Disease resistance is of great importance for winter barley especially against powdery mildew and leaf rust. Resistances against Rhynchosporium, net blotch and yellow barley mosaic virus are evaluated in international cooperation. Intensive selection for lodging resistance, yield and excellent kernel properties led to six rowed varieties with kernel qualities often superior to two rowed varieties. For speeding up breeding we use In-vitro-Antherculture, marker resisted selection and winter generation in South America.

The most important varieties from this breeding program are HANZI, MARISSA, ALORA, CARMINA und CONNY, which are marketed in a lot of east and south-east European countries.

Durum wheat

Durum varieties originating in Probstdorf are well adapted to Austrian growing conditions, one reason that foreign varieties so far have not really entered the local seed market. The requirements with regard to quality by the processing industry are high and include the following: test weight, protein content and quality, vitreousness, yellow pigment content as well as falling number. In winter durum selection for winter hardiness is of primary importance.

At present the most important spring durum variety is FLORADUR which has become the leading variety in Austria and Germany due to its stability concerning to yield and quality. Further important varieties are ROSADUR, DUROFLAVUS and most recently MALVADUR, NICODUR, DUROFLAVUS, DUROMAX, TAMADUR und DUROFOX .

In winter durum the leading variety, AURADUR, has been complemented by the new and promising varieties TEMPODUR, ELSADUR, CLIODUR and LUPIDUR.

Spring barley

Spring barley

Both malting and feed spring barley are bred in Probstdorf. A high level of disease resistance in early generations is a must for the advancing of breeding lines. Kernel characteristics are extremely important in spring barley. Thousands of sieve analysis for kernel plumpness and NIT measurements of malting quality are the basis for selection. Most promising material is further analyzed in micro malting essays.

The most important registrations of the past years are feed varieties VIENNA and WILMA, malting variety PAULA as well as hulless barley MONA, a specialty destined for food industry.

Variety development of other crops

The organization of trials and the variety development of winter rye and sunflower are located in Probstdorf. Yearly trials of foreign sunflower lines at three locations in eastern Austria shall enable us to find those suitable for the Austrian growing regions. After one or two years of private trials promising lines are entered by SZD into official variety testing for registration. This means a total of 4-6 years of testing before registration in the Austrian list of varieties.

The same applies to winter rye, where we have two locations: one in the east and one in the main rye growing region of upper Austria.

Depending on the crop the following locations are available as test sites:
  • Leopoldsdorf im Marchfeld
  • Weikendorf
  • Atzenbrugg
  • plus two organic locations in the Marchfeld region

Summer internship

In the months of July – September we offer summer internships.

Job: all aspects of cereal harvest up to quality analysis.

Housing is available, knowledge of some German is necessary.


The breeding station Reichersberg works around 80 ha arable land. A deep layer of humus-rich brown earth is covering sandy loam with high water capacity but poor water permeability. Phosphorus and Potassium content is between 14 and 20 mg/100g soil at pH-6.2-6.6 on own land. Soil pH on leased land is occasionally markedly lower. The area is generally flat and open to all cardinal directions. The plant has all implements for farming, trials and breeding nurseries, including greenhouse, climatic chambers and laboratories. Twelf full time and eight part time workers are permanently employed and supported by 17-20 harvest helpers during the summer months.

Elevation: 340 m above sea level
Annual average temperature: 8,8°C
annual average precipitation: 840mm

Breeding programs at Reichersberg:


Soybean Reichersberg has repeatedly made an attempt to breed soybeans. But dependent on the market environments the activities were frozen several times. From 1990 to 1995 breeding material was coming from former GDR and own populations. A restart of proprietary breeding was made in 2006 and in 2011 we have established a breeding program with substantial efforts. Aiming at the development of new varieties with better agronomic performance and improved properties for feed and human consumption we are working in maturity groups 0000 to 0. Our clear focus is on 000 and 00, having key importance for the domestic market. Covering the main austrian soybean production areas, our yield trials are located at Reichersberg, Schönering, Marchtrenk, Weikendorf and Oberwart.

In 2014 and 2015 the 3 varieties ABELINA, ALEXA and AMADEA which are bred by Saatzucht Donau were registered in the Austrian variety list.

Oilseed rape

Oilseed rape Yield trials in winter oilseed rape began with the availability of erucic acid free 0-varieties. Since then we have tested under austrian conditions numerous lines and from 1990 on also hybrids from co-operating breeders. Already before the turn of the millennium Saatbau Linz decided to set up a breeding program in winter oil seed rape based on double haploid lines. The objective was to develop 00-varieties (erucic acid free and glucosinolate low) with "high yield, top quality and best agronomic properties" for the austrian dry zone and neighbouring countries. These goals remained unchanged after the establishment of Saatzucht Donau in 2000. Since 2007/2008, Saatzucht Donau lines are used as male component in joint hybrids with a co-operating german breeder. The intensive variety testing in Austria is done at dry and humid zone locations (Reichersberg, Pyhra, Leopoldsdorf and Weikendorf). Numerous Austrian and international variety registrations with varieties like HARRY and SIDNEY witness our successful work in research and development.

Two rowed winter barley

Winter barley At the beginning of barley breeding at Reichersberg, crosses were mainly made in spring barley and six row winter barley. A two row winter barley breeding programme was established in 1982. A number of successful varieties has been developed in all segments. After foundation of Saatzucht Donau, the breeding of spring barley and six row winter barley was transferred to Probstdorf whereas the common breeding programme for two row winter barley was set up at Reichersberg. The current main objective of proprietary breeding and screening is the development of optimal varieties for the domestic agriculture. Our intensive research aims to find outstanding combinations of superb yield potential, excellent lodging resistance, distinguished grain- and feed quality, best straw stability and a package of stable resistance against diseases, pests and abiotic stress factors. Our advanced breeding material is intensively tested together with the newest generation genetics of co-operating breeders. The slurry-proof varieties HANNELORE and ALTONA are important milestones of cultivar development at Reichersberg. In barley, we run own field trials at the austrian locations Reichersberg, Marchtrenk, Atzenbrugg and Probstdorf. The transnational trial network aims to identify broadly adapted varieties like ARCANDA and ORDINALE, showing high and stable performance across very diverse environments in many countries. Climate change is likely to enforce the further retreat of spring barley from Austria and surrounding areas. The development of economically more competitive top malting quality winter barley will compensate this decline in order to ensure the raw material supply for the malting industry.


The objective of our Triticale program is the selection of top varieties from the newest genetics of our international co-operation partners. We aim to combine excellent grain quality, low susceptibility for pre-harvest sprouting, all-enclosing disease resistance, earliness and winter hardiness in high yielding, lodging resistant varieties. The diversity of austrian production areas with a big variety of soil-, water- and production intensity conditions makes it difficult to cover the various requirements with universally usable varieties. Proprietary breeding in moderate size concentrates on the supply of cheap energy as starch and biomass for feed, biogas and industrial use. High starch and biomass productivity, excellent grain quality and high ethanol yield are key features of our own varieties CALORIUS and TRICANTO.

Screening and development in

  • Winter Wheat
  • Oat
  • Spring Wheat
  • Peas
  • various minor crops
Depending on the crop we are testing lines from co-operating partners with appropriate efforts. We submit selected materials to official trials for evaluating the value for cultivation and use and the distinctness, uniformity and stability. In case of adequate results a new variety can be released two or three years later. On demand we develop and breed minor crops for niche markets.

Summer internship

Every year the breeding station Reichersberg offers 17–20 young people the possibility of a summer internship. These can be pupils of agricultural schools, students with a connection to agriculture but this is not a must. Some knowledge of German is necessary for foreign people.