WA growers who hope to take advantage of early-season moisture now have a new variety option following the release of Australian Grain Technologies’ (AGT) winter wheat Longsword.
Derived from Mace, Longsword is best suited to low and medium rainfall areas.
The new variety can be sown from early April, fitting into the planting window between the longer season, traditional winter wheats and the more commonly-sown spring varieties.
AGT wheat breeder Dr James Edwards said the new variety had unique maturing characteristics that made it suitable for planting within a wide and flexible sowing window, while remaining less susceptible to frost and heat damage.
“In environments with a distinct dry finish, if flowering occurs outside of the optimum time or grain fill occurs too slowly, drastic yield reductions can occur,” Dr Edwards said.
“With its three vernalisation genes, Longsword will remain vegetative across a broad planting window and should deliver an optimal flowering time, but not linger through grain fill.
“There is nothing else like it on the market as winter wheat breeding and selection has traditionally been undertaken in areas where there is a softer finish to the season.”
AGT national marketing manager Dan Vater said AGT had been working on Longsword for the past eight years.
He said the winter wheat variety was ideal for WA growers wanting to capitalise on opportunistic earlier sowing.
“Growers are constantly expressing a desire to get into paddocks earlier but we are already pushing the limits on how early we can sow our current spring varieties, Mr Vater said.
“We finally have a variety that you can plant through most of April before you swap over to a spring wheat like Scepter in May.
“It gives them (growers) much more flexibility on when they can start sowing and if there’s some early rains then they might be able to take advantage of them.”
Mr Vater said while Longsword was not expected to replace more popular WA wheat varieties, it could be a useful cropping program option.
“It’s definitely going to be a tool – I don’t think it’s going to be a Mace or a Scepter which is going to take over 50 to 60 per cent of the wheat country in WA but I think if farmers have a little bit of this seed on hand and they do have some early-sowing conditions, they might want to put in 5 to 10pc of their cropping program to this and get that out of the way early,” Mr Vater said.
“Doing that will spread risk as well.”
He said trials conducted across more than 10 sites throughout WA had shown promising results.
He said when sown in mid-April, Longsword had yielded comparable results to a May-sown Mace.
Longsword seed will be available through AGT Affiliates for the 2018 planting season and will be available for AGT Seed Sharing in the 2019 season.
At present, Longsword is yet to gain a quality classification by Wheat Quality Australia and growers planting Longsword in 2018 should assume it will be deliverable as feed.
“We are hoping to get a classification on it next year but we need to do the work and get the results after this harvest coming and we hopefully aim for that next year,” Mr Vater said.
“It’s heavily based on Mace and Mace is a hard wheat so we’re hoping it performs the same, in Autumn there’s a chance that we’ll get a classification but there’s a chance that we may not as well so we’re just not trying to promise anything at this stage.”