QUEENSLAND plant breeders seem to be on the verge of achieving that elusive combination ~ a maize hybrid that produces both grit-quality grain and high yields.
They are waiting to see if the hybrid BSX526, which has produced 10.3 t/ha with a hardness rating of 70, will also perform well under water stress conditions.
A long-term breeding project, supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC, aims to combine high yield and drought resistance with grain quality suitable for the gritting trade. In a trial conducted by Queensland Department of Primary Industries breeders Gary Harch and Ian Martin at Kingaroy this season, the experimental hybrid BSX526 produced 10.3 t/ha, the highest yield of 92 tested hybrids.
This was only slightly higher than that recorded by the best commercial check hybrid, which produced 10.15 t/ha. But BSX526 had a grain hardness rating of 70, which puts it in the grit quality range, whereas the commercial check had a rating of 45, which is in the stockfeed range. Hybrids suitable for gritting usually command a price premium over stockfeed quality maize.
"It is generally accepted that grain hardness and high yield are negatively correlated, so this result is a significant one," said Mr Martin.
Maize was a pioneering crop in the South Burnett district and has been a mainstay of the rural economy for many years. Results in the 2001 summer suggest the old crop still has much to offer. Despite a dry finish to the wet season, commercial yields of 8 t/ha were common and prices as high as $200 per tonne in response to a booming demand for pig stockfeed brought good returns to growers.
Program 2.3.1 Contact: Mr Ian Martin 07 4095 8419