Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 065 November-December 2006 - North
NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2006 GROUND COVER 5 News rural Silos • Field Bins • Cattle Feeders Call 1800 135 732 The Agricultural Storage Specialists WILTING LENTILS SHOW RESEARCH IMPACTS BY MELISSA MARINO n Among the sometimes forgotten victims of drought are researchers whose painstaking crop trials turn to dust, putting back research and breeding programs that have sometimes taken years to prepare. Just one of numerous examples around the country this year is the lentil breeding program under Dr Michael Materne at Horsham, Victoria. Poor yields from multiplication plots and incomplete data from the breeders’ testing sites throughout southern-eastern Australia will now delay plans for the widespread release of two new lentil varieties and hamper progress in pulse breeding and research generally. The new lentil varieties were developed by the national lentil breeding program which is part of the National Pulse Breeding Program, funded by the GRDC and state governments. However, rather than dwelling on negatives, everyone involved in the program is focusing on the future and the long-term prospects for improving farm profitability. Dr Materne says the release of the new red lentil variety NipperA and green lentil BoomerA will now be delayed until 2008. “Although seed production was spread across some of the best crop-growing areas in south-eastern Australia and some of it under irrigation, an acute lack of rain has severely reduced yield,” he says. “They will need to undergo another seed increase in 2007.” Dr Materne says the dry conditions are also thwarting research – including the development of new herbicide- tolerant varieties – under way in the region surrounding the Victorian Department of Primary Industries Grains Innovation Park, where he is based. “It’s really disappointing to have breeding lines of great potential coming through the program, but be limited by low seed volumes and incomplete data from experimental trials,” he says. “We’ll be using most of our seed for sowing next year and will have to limit our destructive quality testing. “However, as Ian McClelland (Birchip Cropping Group) states, we must all focus on the future and the positives from the year. In our case, we’ve had great results in the development of group B tolerant lentils. This year also supports our attempts to develop more drought-tolerant varieties.” Dr Materne plans to multiply seed of the herbicide-tolerant lentils over summer in an effort to boost seed stocks and enable research to continue. He also sees some IN BRIEF NEW SEED COMPANY Anew seed company, Seed Force, has set up in Australia and New Zealand. Owned and operated locally, it is backed by European seed giant RAGT Semences. Headed in Australia by David Gould and Mike Gout, Seed Force will operate as a wholesaler from an office and warehouse at Shepparton, Victoria, with a research farm at Gundagai, NSW. Mr Gout says RAGT wanted a base from which to test and release its varieties in the region but preferred to rely on experienced local people rather than send Europeans to establish the new company. “Seed Force will have exclusive access to RAGT germplasm but will not be restricted to it,” he says. The company is sourcing material from around the world and screen- ing it across Australia. Seed Force will specialise mainly in forages such as rye grasses, clover, lucerne and brassi- cas. Two late-maturing varieties of forage brassicas, Sparta and Greenland, have already been tested and released. More information: Mike Gout, email@example.com ZERO TOLERANCE FOR WEED The Branched Broomrape Eradication Program has announced a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to branched broom- rape (Orobanche ramosa), a parasitic weed which has the potential to seriously damage Australia’s temperate cropping systems. The program is into its eighth year of a 20-year strategy and is reporting some success. Scientists at the 15th Australian Weeds Conference in Adelaide said the weed’s num- bers were declining. In South Australia’s Murray-Mallee region, where the weed was first discovered, 7860 paddocks are contained within the Branched Broomrape Quarantine Area (more than 190,000 hectares), although only eight per cent of paddocks actually have the weed. SA has the only known infestation, but program manager Philip Warren says WA’s cropping belt and much of Victoria is also prone to infestation, as may be parts of NSW, Queensland and Tasmania. More information: Philip Warren, 08 8303 9687, Warren.Philip@saugov.sa.gov.au NEW NORTHERN WHEAT Growers in northern NSW and in Queensland have access to a new wheat variety for early sowing. It is reported to be high-yielding, rust-resistant and highly tolerant to acid soils. The variety, Sunzell, has been released for 2007, providing an option to growers who have been using SunbrookA or StrzeleckiA. Sunzell is eligible to be received into the Australian Hard AWB grade in northern NSW and Queensland, and the Prime Hard grade in southern NSW. The variety is available through Australian Grain Technologies (AGT). Company CEO Steve Jefferies says the main aim initially was resistance to three rusts, but the variety also has toler- ance characteristics relating to septoria leaf blotch, smut and root lesion nematode. Sunzell has been named in honour of Gilgandra graingrower Max Zell, a member of the Wheat Research Foundation, which manages the Narrabri Institute where the variety was bred. More information: www.agtseeds.com, www.sunprimeseeds.com/downloads/Sunzell.pdf WHEAT-LUPIN LIFT FOR WA WA’s $2.67 billion (2005-06) grains industry has added two new varieties for its wheat- lupin rotations. The new GRDC-supported varieties are CoromupA, a new high-protein lupin, and Binnu, a new Udon noodle wheat. Both have been bred and developed for specific markets. CoromupA is aimed at the aquaculture and human consumption markets, while Binnu is for the Udon noodle markets in Japan and South Korea. WA supplies all of Australia’s Udon noodle wheat to Japan and South Korea. CoromupA and Binnu have been trialled and tested by the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, but growers are also invited to undertake on-farm trials to further test the crops in commercial environments. More information: Growers can review National Variety Trials results at www.nvtonline.com.au other positive aspects to such a season. “It allows us to see the extremes of production conditions, and identify those few lentil types that we should emphasize in our crossing program to introduce such exceptional performance under drought,” he says. “Under the National Pulse Breeding Program we can focus on addressing more limitations to production such as drought, and new initiatives in biotechnology will provide linked genetic markers to speed up the breeding program in the future.” The new green and red lentil varieties – the first to be released under the National Pulse Breeding Program – are expected to boost farm production under rainfed conditions, reduce costs and risk and open up new markets when they are released. The green variety BoomerA is the first large green variety bred for Australia’s major lentil-growing areas, providing new markets to growers. The new red lentil NipperA possesses improved disease resistance, which reduces losses from disease as well as costs associated with fungicide applications. “Providing varieties that reduce the cost and improve the reliability of growing lentils is really important, especially in and after drought years,” Dr Materne says. GRDC Research Code DAV00072 More information: Dr Michael Materne, firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Materne: "We must all focus on the future and the positives from the year."
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