Tasmania's global search for 'hyper-yielding' wheat varieties


Grains industry research is unlocking the genetic potential of feed wheat in Tasmania.

The world's best cool climate wheat varieties are being tested on a farm at Hagley in the north of the state, and records look set to be broken.

At least, that is the view of Tasmanian cropping farmers steering the Grains Research and Development Corporation-funded hyper-yielding cereals project.

Nick Poole from the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) Australia is leading the evaluation of 50 different wheats for yield and grain quality, alongside barley trials.

"We're trying to scour right around the different breeders, and source from as many different places as we can," Mr Poole said.

"We've been scavenging from anywhere we can, because the simple truth is that the Australian mainland is not geared to producing long-season feed-grain cereals that are what we need here in Tasmania.

"The wheats that we've got here come from as far afield as northern Europe."

As managing director of FAR, Mr Poole acknowledged Tasmanian farmers already grew irrigated feed wheat crops in excess of 12 tonnes a hectare.

He said established high-yielding wheat varieties like Revenue, Einstein and Manning were being grown alongside "hyper-yielding" candidates at the Hagley trial.

Mr Poole said 19 varieties were being intensively studied for economically important variables including nitrogen fertiliser response and their resistance to fungal diseases like rust and sclerotinia, as well as the quantity and quality of their grain.

"As you know, Tasmania imports a considerable amount of grain from the mainland," Mr Poole said.

"So this project is about saying can we produce more of it ourselves, without the need for a Federal subsidy.

"And, if so, what quality is it that our end-users want? This project is trying to crack some of that."



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