Wheat Breeding

Published: 8 Feb 2011

Cover page of wheat breeding fact sheet

Australia’s wheat breeding is geared to tackle long-term agronomic challenges like yield, drought, frost, disease resistance and salinity, and to deliver commercial performing varieties to Australia’s wheat growers.

Frequently asked questions


What is GRDC’s level of investment in pre-breeding?

In 2009-10 GRDC directed more than $22m of levy funds into wheat and barley pre-breeding. Without this significant effort in pre-breeding, commercial varietal breeding programs cannot be successful. Prebreeding investment reflects grower priorities including yield, drought, frost, disease resistance (for example rust and crown rot) and salinity.

Who does GRDC collaborate with?

GRDC partners with public and private
organisations, including the various state government departments of agriculture, the CSIRO, a great number of universities and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. International partnerships are with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.


How has GRDC’s investment in wheat breeding changed?

Today’s wheat breeding is a commercial business. Except for areas of market failure such as durum and dual purpose wheat, GRDC no longer invests grower levies directly in wheat breeding projects and therefore has no ownership in new variety releases. However, GRDC has equity investments in some commercial wheat breeding companies based on its historical funding of these programs. Operational funding for these companies comes from End Point Royalties (EPRs).

Why did this change occur?

GRDC’s investment strategy for wheat breeding has changed in response to a changed environment for wheat breeding. GRDC was only ever a minority funder of wheat breeding in Australia. From the late 1990s, public investment in breeding declined. However, the 1994 Plant Breeder’s Rights legislation created opportunities to capture value for breeding programs in the form of seed and End Point Royalties. This provided an incentive for private investment in breeding. GRDC has been re-directing levy money into pre-competitive, strategic pre-breeding research and other important parts of the GRDC portfolio.

What are the benefits from this change?

The current commercial structure provides the basis for sustainable wheat breeding in Australia. it also attracts private investment which in turn provides access to technologies and resources not currently available to Australian breeders.

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Region National, North, South, West

Region: National; North; South; West