Research aims to help reduce sprouting risk

Author: Gemma Walker | Date: 18 Dec 2014

Image of Gemma Walker, GRDC western regional panellist.

By GRDC western regional panel member Gemma Walker

Western Australian research is fine-tuning sprouting tolerance ratings for wheat, to help growers identify varieties less likely to sprout during wet conditions at the end of the cropping season.

Pre-harvest sprouting has been a significant issue for a number of WA wheat growers this year, causing significant downgrading of grain and financial losses.

Research into pre-harvest sprouting has been conducted over recent years by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), with funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), as part of the project ‘Wheat agronomy – building system profitability in the western region’.

It has helped produce a sprouting tolerance rating system, which was included in the 2014 Wheat Variety Guide for WA ( Results from this year’s trials will further refine these ratings, for publication in the 2015 edition.

According to DAFWA project leader Ben Curtis, the research has included field trials and the use of rain simulators to replicate what happens to a wheat crop which is exposed to rain.

Mature wheat samples from the field trials are placed in a simulator and subjected to different levels of ‘rainfall’, for different periods.

To measure the extent of damage to the grain, the internationally recognised ‘falling number test’ is then used to assess if starch has started to break down, which indicates that the grain has started to sprout.

No variety is totally resistant to sprouting and any wheat variety will sprout if it is exposed to moisture for an extended period of time.

Grain storage information to help growers deal with high-moisture grain at harvest time is available in GRDC fact sheet Dealing with High Moisture Grain available at


Caption: GRDC western regional panellist Gemma Walker, who farms in the Esperance region where sprouting has been an issue this year, says pre-harvest sprouting research by DAFWA in WA has included field trials and the use of rain simulators.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Ben Curtis, DAFWA
08 9083 1111

Gemma Walker, GRDC western panel
0428 751 095


Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code DAW00218

Region West