TRITICALE growers are urging greater research into the development of more productive and disease-resistant varieties suitable for WA environments.
Currently, the breeding of new triticale varieties is concentrated in NSW and South Australia.
The area sown to triticale in WA has expanded in recent years, according to Albany Agriculture Department senior adviser Ron McTaggart.
He estimates up to 50,000ha are grown annually in WA.
Mr McTaggart was among those who attended a triticale field day held on the department's Mt Barker research station to listen to and question Kath Cooper, a University of Adelaide plant breeder who has specialised in the crop.
The plant is now widely accepted for inclusion in livestock diets.
In her address, Dr Cooper described the benefits and disadvantages of the 24 triticale varieties under trial at the research station.
The trial began 10 years ago after Dr Cooper selected those varieties of triticale she thought most suitable for graingrowing in WA's southern area.
"The variety Treat will grow well in much drier areas than Mt Barker," she said.
"This is a variety of interest to Milne Feeds, Katanning, who are looking for more triticale to be grown further north."
She said the green heads showing in the Treat plots was evidence of late tillering.
Another variety, Tickit, which she released in WA, is a shorter variety having a strong stalk that can withstand high winds.
She said it tillers more than Tahara and is nematode-resistant.
"The newer varieties than Tahara, which you've grown for the past 10 years, give high grain yields," Dr Cooper said.
"The variety Speedie, released in 2003, is a good short season variety, released under PBR.
"Credit, another of my releases here, is popular for waterlogged sites, but has a lower test weight."
Dr Cooper said that Kosciusko is a New England University (NSW) release that could meet WA environmental conditions.
It is thick-strawed and stripe rust-resistant.
Following a visit to the farm of John Doncon, Manypeaks, Dr Cooper said his crop of Everest triticale was brilliant.
"But this Everest variety is not as drought-tolerant as some others," Dr Cooper said.
"If you're making hay from triticale, my recommendation is don't let the crop go past the first flowering stage."
She recommended a seeding rate of 100kg/ha. Mt Barker triticale grower Iain Mackie said he'd had success with a seeding rate as low as 60kg/ha.
Visitors were impressed by a crop of the un-named triticale variety TX94-119, seeded on May 31 using 100kg/ha of seed, 100kg/ha of MAP fertiliser and sprayed with Impact 400ml/ha. It is a cross of the South African variety Kiewiet-20 and Credit, which is a popular NSW variety.
Mr McTaggart told growers about Nugrain, an Australian-owned company set up to supply new and improved plant varieties.
Nugrain is required to pay Adelaide University a royalty for any Tickit triticale variety delivered to another person.
Tickit was developed by the University via Dr Cooper's breeding program, and support by the GRDC.
Grain yields from Tickit in low 375mm rainfall areas are shown to be equal to Tahara and superior to other popular triticale, and again superior in mid and high rainfall areas, by 3-8pc.
Tickit has shown resistance to stem, stripe and leaf rusts and cereal cyst nematode.