Out with the old wheat varieties, in with the new

28 Apr, 2011 03:00 AM
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Wheat Classification Council chairman Robert Sewell said the new system would ensure old wheat varieties which weren't contributing to the bulk of grain harvested in Australia each year should be thrown out, making room for a far more effective and efficient industry.
Wheat Classification Council chairman Robert Sewell said the new system would ensure old wheat varieties which weren't contributing to the bulk of grain harvested in Australia each year should be thrown out, making room for a far more effective and efficient industry.

UP to 500 wheat varieties grown in Australia could be declassified and taken off the table in the near future.

According to Wheat Classification Council (WCC) chairman Robert Sewell, WA growers can help to drive classification and unclutter the industry of its outdated and under-performing varieties.

He said the Australian wheat industry had to make sure it had the right varieties coming through the market, the right market signals were being sent to cereal breeders and specific varieties were being bred, classified and marketed to important overseas customers.

The WCC's new system will ensure old wheat varieties which aren't contributing to the bulk of grain harvested in Australia each year are thrown out, making room for a far more effective and efficient industry.

New varieties of wheat classified into a line will have a shelf life of 10 years.

"We have varieties that have been sitting on the books now for 40 or 50 years and haven't been delivered," Mr Sewell said.

"So we're updating the master list."

After 10 years breeders will need to resubmit their variety for testing against other varieties and reclassification will follow if the wheat performs within its expected parameters.

But growers need not be alarmed at the idea of losing the right to sow their old favourites like Wyalkatchem because popular varieties will be given the chance to stay classified in particular states.

"When we say varieties will have a life of 10 years, varieties like Wyalkatchem have had a life for well past that but it makes up about 30 per cent of the crop grown in WA, so nobody in their right mind would drop Wyalkatchem off the list," Mr Sewell said.

"So it will roll over for another few years."

Mr Sewell said the new system was an opportunity for the Australian wheat industry to set the standard for its own wheat.

The WCC looked at all the varieties which hadn't been delivered into the bulk handling system over the last two years and created the list for consideration.

Last year there were 90 varieties which made up less than 0.1pc of all deliveries throughout Australia.

Of the 90, about five of them were still being delivered in some areas so the WCC allowed them to roll over and remain classified for another two years.

WA favourites up for review after the upcoming harvest include Wyalkatchem, Cadoux and Westonia but Mr Sewell emphasised that growers could make submissions to the WCC after viewing published lists to make sure important varieties weren't revoked from classification.

"We're not doing it because of genetic or performance changes," Mr Sewell said.

"We're hoping the market might change which presents opportunities for new varieties that out-perform older varieties like Wyalkatchem.

"The thing about varieties like Wyalkatchem is if it went up for classification today against varieties that the market wants it probably wouldn't make it."

Varieties like Beacon, Bodallin, Canna, Cranbrook and Miling were also on the list for classification.

"There were 500 varieties on the master list," Mr Sewell said.

"Every year marketers have to put all of these varieties into their computers and it's a lot of work.

"If there's zero deliverance why not wipe them off the books?"

Mr Sewell said the wrong wheat classifications in WA had the potential to trash Australia's exporting reputation so the clean up was important.

He said WA growers didn't really understand classification and needed to in order to make the right choices on farm.

He said many growers didn't know that wheat classifications were not the same as receival standards and measured hectolitre weights, protein levels and screenings weren't considered when determining a variety's classification.

"Breeding companies submit new varieties to the WCC and it decides on its class," Mr Sewell said.

"And this is an area where I think we can have some real input from the growers."

Classes are based on processing and end product quality and are based on inherent and genetic quality traits which are too complex and difficult to assess at receival, not the grain's physical characteristics.

Mr Sewell said the WCC was also focused on zoning issues, data requirement, class availability, quality requirements and the WCC panel's processes.

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READER COMMENTS

concerned
29/04/2011 7:51:22 PM, on Farm Weekly

When is a master list not a master list? When it doesn't list all possible things on the list. They are on a computer for goodness sake so they only have to add the new ones, not put them all on each year.

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