THERE'S SOME good news for field pea growers, especially those in the drier districts — a new white-seeded, high-yielding variety is coming your way.
The new variety is Sturt, which is being released as part of the Australian Field Pea Improvement Program.
According to the Pulse Program Leader with Victoria's Department of Primary Industries, David McNeil, Sturt was bred by Horsham-based plant breeder Tony Leonforte, as was another new white pea release — the yet-to-be-named line 90-166*30-5.
Dr McNeil said both were being offered for commercial development this year.
While they were both suited to production across south-eastern Australia, Sturt was likely to make its mark in drier regions, whereas the other line, being released in conjunction with NSW Agriculture, could prove popular with NSW growers because of their preference for an erect field pea with ease-of-harvest features.
Dr McNeil said the production of white peas in Australia was currently secondary to that of dun types. "Most of the white peas grown in Australia are for specific markets in both the human food and stock feed areas," he said.
"They offer superior milling efficiencies over duns and are in demand from those human food markets where a bland taste is preferred, as they don't have the tannins and bitter taste of the duns."
Dr McNeil said Sturt produced tall vigorous plants of a trailing type — harvested with a 'pea-lifter' front. It was a broadly adapted variety with yields similar to or better than Kaspa and Parafield . In lower-rainfall areas it had better yield potential than the other two varieties.
In 15 trials of mixed dun, white and blue peas across SA and Victoria in very dry 2002, it was the highest yielder in 10 of the trials. Its performance in better seasons was also good.
Dr McNeil said 90-166*30-5 had an erect growth habit, excellent pod-shatter resistance and higher yields than the benchmark white variety, Snowpeak . It was selected for release in NSW by Eric Armstrong at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.
"It is generally less susceptible to lodging than Mukta , Sturt and Parafield , though they offer slightly higher yields as does the new dun pea Kaspa," Dr McNeil said.
"Both Sturt and the unnamed line, as well as most others, have similar susceptibilities to powdery mildew and Ascochyta blight and can suffer yield losses in bad years. "Both lines are soft-seeded, they flower and mature mid-season, and they produce smooth spherical peas suitable for either human consumption or stockfeed markets."
Dr McNeil said it was expected that seed of both varieties would become available to growers from 2004 — albeit in limited amounts next year.
Program 2 Contact: Dr David McNeil 03 5362 2111 email firstname.lastname@example.org
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