A new wheat variety with qualities that suit the domestic baking industry is a significant step forward in the drive for wheats bred for specific markets.
SUN1401 is one of four promising new wheat varieties bred by Dr Frank Ellison at the University of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at Narrabri, under the Northern Wheat Improvement Program backed by growers through the GRDC.
"SUN1401 is targeted towards the requirements of the domestic milling and baking industries, which are looking for a wheat in the middle protein range - 11.5 to 12.5 per cent - and a shorter mixing time during the baking process," Dr Ellison said.
"Their preference would be for the variety Banks, which has been superseded by higher-yielding varieties, and the domestic industries have been forced in some cases to draw their supplies from prime hard varieties which were basically developed to meet the needs of export markets.
"These varieties have lovely protein levels but they make a flour which is so strong it takes too long to mix."
Link with industry
In a first for an Australian wheat breeding program, PBI has involved George Weston Foods (manufacturer of Tip Top bread) in the process of evaluating SUN1401 for baking and milling qualities.
"Between 40 and 60 per cent of wheat grown in NSW is used for domestic consumption, so it makes sense to have a variety meeting the requirements of domestic millers and bakers," said Dr Ellison.
"SUN1401 can be said to deliver Banks-type milling and baking qualities with a better yield and today's grower requirements in regard to disease resistance."
Industry looks to growers
The general manager of Weston Milling's Cereal Laboratories, Dai Suter, says deregulation of the wheat industry in Australia means domestic manufacturers can deal directly with growers to obtain their particular grain needs. It also allows the domestic industry a stronger influence on the direction of Australian wheat breeding programs, which had been dominated by the export-focused Australian Wheat Board.
"We want to assure growers that this is a ready market," Dr Suter said. "If we can find varieties which will both yield well and suit our requirements, there are advantages for growers in selling direct to domestic millers and bakers in the cash market."
Balavia and Cunningham meanwhile
The verdict on SUN1401 and how well it meets the company's requirement is still out until after the next harvest. "In the meantime we are taking as much Batavia as we can get, Banks where we can get it, and Cunningham," Dr Suter said.
He said Swift is of interest in southern areas and Weston is evaluating how the new Queensland variety Tasman performs in the north and central west of NSW.
Weston also "had a look at and liked" Cargills CH31, a hybrid offering a 15 per cent yield advantage over Hartog, but not categorised as Prime Hard.
Among other wheats, Sunstate out of Dr Ellison's program at Narrabri "seemed to work all right", but Sunland was too strong for the domestic industry.
Dr Ellison said seed of SUN1401 and a second new release - the long season variety SUN224A - would be available for the 1996 growing season under the label of Sunprime Seeds.
SUN224A was a disease-resistant, longseason variety suitable for late April and early May sowing in the northern region of the eastern wheat belt of Australia, with very good yield potential - 5-10 per cent above SUNBRI in early sowings.
An export rather than domestic wheat, SUN224A achieved Prime Hard protein regularly and had shown good processing qualities, particularly for pan breads and yellow noodles.
"Sunprime Seeds is a joint venture by the University of Sydney and the Prime Wheat Association, with the objective of making quality seed available to growers at very reasonable prices," Dr Ellison said.
Subprogram 2.11.02 Contact: Dr Frank Ellison 067 921 588