A NEW short-season oat variety has been released, which has the potential to open up areas of oat grain production in the medium to low rainfall regions of the State.
The release of Durack oats continues the tradition of naming oat varieties after rivers and also pays tribute to one of the State's pioneering agricultural families.
Durack (tested as WA02Q302-9) is a product of the National Oat Breeding Program, a partnership between the South Australian Research and Development Institute, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, with assistance from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
The program has proved to be a highly successful R&D model, led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute's Dr Pamela Zwer and her team.
DAFWA acting director general Mark Webb was at the launch of the new variety at the Grains Industry Association of Western Australia's recent Oat Spring Forum at the Muresk Institute.
Mr Webb said Durack had the potential to be a dual-purpose food grain or hay variety that would satisfy increasing interest in oat production, particularly from medium to low rainfall areas.
"Oat production has increased significantly in WA in recent years, with an estimated 341,000 hectares planted this season," Mr Webb said.
"This growth has been driven by a gradual increase in demand for high quality food oats, particularly from Asia, and local investments to increase milling capacity, which has the potential to double local processing demand in the next five years.
"Durack will provide growers with a reliable, early maturing variety that has been bred to suit medium to low rainfall conditions, while at the same time providing growers in higher rainfall areas with a useful option for delayed sowing or pre-seeding weed management."
While Durack has been bred to satisfy milling requirements, it will undergo final commercial milling evaluation after harvest to confirm its status before sowing in 2017.
Durack is a tall variety with competitive yield potential and outstanding grain quality.
It is the earliest maturing oat variety of any current milling or hay variety, heading 10 to 12 days earlier than Carrolup and 15 to 18 days earlier than Bannister.
While yields associated with tall oat varieties may not surpass dwarf oats, the grain quality characteristics of Durack indicate it will provide robust performance when compared with other varieties in medium-lower rainfall areas.
In particular, Durack has higher hectolitre weights and lower screenings than current milling varieties, such as Carrolup and Williams.
GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies said Durack had been developed via a national partnership in grains research and development.
"GRDC is excited to have Durack released to growers and looks forward to positive feedback from the benefits it will deliver to growers in the field," Dr Jefferies said.
"We are committed to breeding programs for oats and other grains in an effort to create enduring profitability opportunities for all Australian grain growers."
Seed of Durack is being made available for the 2017 growing season through Heritage Seeds.
It will be supported by a Durack agronomy package, developed by DAFWA, to assist growers to optimise their crop's potential.