Research venture to boost wheat

24 Apr, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE soft wheat variety WAWHT2248 could be in commercial use before 2007 if the new National Wheat Breeding Program (NWBP) delivers what it promises.

A main aim of the joint venture between WA Agriculture Department, NSW Agriculture and Queensland Department of Primary Industries, launched at Grain Week, was to accelerate the breeding process.

It was expected to boost access to new technologies, which would underpin development of high quality, maximum yield varieties for growers.

The joint initiative will be based on the nation's richest collection of wheat germplasm.

Acting WA Agriculture Minister Tom Stephens said the WA Agriculture Department had taken steps, with an increased investment from the GRDC, to set up an accelerated backcrossing program over the next five years.

It would meet higher standards for rust resistance, sprouting and black point.

"This has been brought about by increased pressure from rust, climate change and growers demands for more progress in these areas," he said.

He said the combined efforts would provide infrastructure and resources to keep Australia's wheat industry competitive in terms of yield potential and quality.

The revamp is expected to result in a rationalisation of resources and funds, the majority of which is still to be provided by graingrowers through the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Managing director John Lovett said more than $100 million would be invested in wheat breeding research over the next five years.

NWBP chairman Murray Rogers said the organisation would bring together a strong team of breeders, world class breeding technologies and excellent international research links - with a focus on breeding better wheat varieties across the country.

"Our priority is to get access to the latest technologies to ensure development of the best varieties for growers, while combining the breeding forces of three states," Mr Rogers said.

"We have the experience to produce the highest quality, best yielding wheat varieties more quickly, and with greater economy, than any other plant improvement group in Australia."

The new organisation will open for business on July 1, 2002.

The GRDC is also a partner in SunPrime Seeds, created in partnership with GrainCorp Operations and University of Sydney.

It will provide funding support to a southern-based organisation, which is expected to bring together the South Australia's Research and Development Institute and Adelaide University.

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