STUDENTS from Albany’s Great Southern Grammar (GSG) will tomorrow, Friday, August 31, help InterGrain launch its latest Noodle wheat variety, as part of the company’s naming initiative to help educate students on the breeding process and key markets of WA’s premium niche product.
GSG students have been working closely with InterGrain over the past few months to name the long-season Noodle wheat – known as IGW8048 – which will be commercially available for WA growers from next year.
The new variety will be another option for WA farmers who export about one million tonnes of Australian Noodle Wheat (ANW) to Japan and South Korea, where it is used as a key ingredient for the traditional udon noodle dish.
Udon noodle wheat is only grown in WA and Japan, making it a high value market for the WA grains industry with an estimated value of $300 million a year.
InterGrain chief executive officer Tress Walmsley said the product’s end users were a key consideration in the naming process of the new variety and GSG was enlisted due to its Japanese language program.
The school has a linkage program with Japan’s Nichinan City School, which also assisted in the Noodle naming project.
“Naming our Noodle varieties is important but also quite challenging for us because there’s lots of rules when it comes to how you can name a variety under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act,” Ms Walmsley said.
“We also like to have a strong connection between WA and the Japanese end-user market.
“We were connected with Great Southern Grammar at Albany which has always had a Japanese program and has also a long-term relationship with the Japanese city of Nichinan.
“We were really excited about being able to combine the Japanese relationship and the end-user food angle with the agricultural production side of things, because Great Southern Grammar has a strong agricultural program as well.”
Ms Walmsley said the InterGrain team travelled to the Albany school to teach students how to cook and eat udon noodles, before participants were tasked with coming up with an appropriate name for the variety with the help of their Japanese counterparts in Nichinan.
The name will be revealed in a naming ceremony at Albany’s Garrison Restaurant tomorrow, where udon noodles made from the new variety will be available for tasting.
“What I love is that this program involved food, consumers, international markets and grain production so it was a great, broad project for the kids to have a look at,” Ms Walmsley said.
This is the first time students have been involved in an InterGrain variety naming project and Ms Walmsley hoped it would help raise awareness about WA’s niche noodle product.
“We have a pretty amazing product that most Perth people, in particular, don’t actually realise that’s home grown in WA,” she said.
Ms Walmsley said the new InterGrain variety had been trialled by local grower group Stirlings to South Coast Farmers, which had a production crop in the ground this season.
She said IGW8048 was best suited to the higher rainfall region of the Great Southern, where previous noodle varieties were not well suited.
“Another reason we’re launching it in Albany is because one of our target environments is the Great Southern,” Ms Walmsley said.
“We haven’t had a suitable variety for that environment for a little while so we’re hoping that this will really suit their growing environment.
“It will also grow in other long season environments and it will be a potential replacement for hard variety Yitpi, but also Calingiri.”
Ms Walmsley encouraged growers interested in the new variety to place seed orders as soon as possible.