Old plant varieties from back in the dim distant beginnings of modern wheat could hold the answer to the wish of one of our readers.
When asked to contribute to our growers' 'wish list', Neil David of Birchip, Victoria said he would like to see some breeding of wheat to eliminate sprouting.
Daryl Mares, Principal Research Fellow at Sydney University's Plant Breeding Institute, tells us that some old wheat varieties did in fact have significant tolerance to sprouting. Unfortunately this tolerance has been lost in our current commercial varieties, but transfer of anti-sprouting mechanisms from the old varieties could dramatically reduce the problem.
5-6 days sprout-resistant
"Sprouting-toierani red-grained wheats have been used in the northern hemisphere for many years, but it was only recently that we identified a small number of old whitegrained varieties which showed similar tolerance," Dr Mares said. "Current commercial varieties sprout within 2 to 3 days in wet and high humidity, but the most tolerant white-grained wheats resist sprouting for 5 to 6 days."
Although the transfer process is difficult, breeders hope to release wheats commercial sprouting-tolerant northern NSW and Queensland in the not-too-distant future, and are already three years down the track in developing varieties for other states.