Dual purpose wheat varieties for central NSW
Author: Peter Matthews and Mehrshad Barary (NSW DPI) | Date: 26 Feb 2019
Take home messages
- Newly released dual-purpose wheat varieties do fit into central NSW farming systems and offer growers greater flexibility in sowing time and maturity compared to EGA Wedgetail
- Matching a variety’s flowering time and maturity to growing conditions is critical in maximising grain yield recovery of a dual-purpose variety
- Illabo and LRPB Kittyhawk are potential replacements for EGA Wedgetail in central NSW and offer improved disease resistance and grain quality over EGA Wedgetail
- Longsword and DS Bennett offer growers varietal choice with winter habit, for both lower and higher rainfall areas respectively
- Variety selection also must consider the required grazing period for livestock and grain quality as these are drivers of dollar returns from the crop.
EGA Wedgetail has been widely grown in central NSW and supported grower farming systems where they have included grazing and grain varieties. EGA Wedgetail was released in 2002 and has been affected by changes in stripe rust ratings, has lower grain quality compared with the some of the more currently grown milling varieties, and its delivery classification in the northern zone is only Australian Hard (AH), compared with Australian Prime Hard (APH) in the south-eastern zone.
While stripe rust can be economically controlled with fungicides, it adds an extra complication when using the variety for grazing and is seen as a disadvantage for growers. With EGA Wedgetail’swinter habit and slower maturity, it doesn’t fit well in all the growing areas in central NSW, so both yield and grain quality are affected when spring conditions are drier, or the season finishes quickly. The shift from APH to AH in the northern zone has meant growers in the central region cannot take advantage of premiums for APH in years where they achieve high grain protein levels.
In the last 5–10 years, increased emphasis has been placed by breeding programs on dual-purpose types that suit both grazing and grain recovery. New varieties released in the last five years now provide growers with more choice and overcome some of the shortfalls in EGA Wedgetail. The releases have been both companion varieties offering different maturities and growing season length; Longsword and DS Bennett and also more direct replacements for EGA Wedgetail; LRPB Kittyhawk and Illabo.
A series of experiments run over the past five years looked at the performance of dual-purpose varieties for both dry matter production and grain recovery (DAN00184); as well as separate time of sowing response and plant physiology experiments in the last two years (DAN00213) to better describe varieties and identify regions in NSW where they are best suited.
The grazing and grain recovery experiments were run across the state, with key in-crop management decisions based around EGA Wedgetail, the current industry benchmark. When comparing varieties, this needs to be considered, as it influences how results are interpreted.
The grazing cereal experiments were sown from the last week of March through to early May, depending on the seasonal break. Key measurements recorded at all sites included dry matter (DM) production through the season at mid tillering and then before stem elongation i.e. growth stage (GS)31 on the Zadoks scale (Zadoks et al. 1974). The experiments were then grazed by livestock following DM measurement and allowed to recover for either further DM assessment, or carried through to grain production.
The trials were conducted based on randomized complete block design, with column and row arrangement. Linear mixed model approach was used to analyse the data. All the analyses were performed using ASReml-R 3 (Butler et al., 2009), considering spatial variations in the model, where needed (Gilmour, et al., 1999).
The results presented in figures 2, 3 and 4 are from Multi-Environment Trials (MET) analysis using one-stage factor analytic method (FA) of Smith et al. (2015), showing values for single site years and across years and sites for NSW from 2011–2017.
Newer dual-purpose wheat variety performance
Key questions to consider when comparing dual-purpose varieties:
- What is the earliest date I can normally sow a dual-purpose wheat variety in my district and reliably establish the crop? Target sowing date? Figure 1 shows the different phase periods for a group of dual-purpose wheat varieties at Wallendbeen in 2018. This highlights the differences between the fast-winters, mid-winters and slow-winters for time to first node, SD1 98–143 days, SD2 97–132 and SD3 96–114 days and the opportunity to tailor variety choice for grazing period length
- What is your main focus in your farming system, grain production or fodder production for livestock?
- Include grazing returns (livestock weight gains/$) in any comparison between varieties, as this can account for between 20–50% of total gross crop return
- Is grain production for use on farm for livestock feed or sale? Returns from higher grade milling varieties can compensate for lower grain yields
- What diseases are important in your region and can they be controlled effectively by fungicides, or do you need to rely on plant resistances to manage?
- Is late season frost risk management important, because your farming landscape has more frost-prone areas in paddocks? Should you grow an awnless variety to mitigate this risk and provide alternative income from hay/silage production?
Figure 1. Influence of sowing date on phasic development of dual-purpose wheat varieties sown 28 March (SD1), 13 April (SD2) and 1 May (SD3) at Wallendbeen, 2018 (DAN00213 – GAPP – Optimising grain yield potential of winter cereals in the northern grains region). Vegetative phase (sowing to GS30); reproductive phase (GS30 to flowering); grain-filling stage (flowering to maturity).
Sunlamb, Longsword, LRPB Kittyhawk, Illabo, EGA Wedgetail, DS Bennett and Manning are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.
The performance of new wheat varieties compared with EGA Wedgetail is shown in figures 2, 3 and 4.
Recently released and evaluated lines include (see Table 1 for summary):
- DS Bennett – A mid–slow winter wheat suited to early March–late April sowings. Due to the longer vegetative phase and slower maturity, it is not well suited to drier environments. It is a high yielding winter wheat, with photoperiod sensitivity and generally flowers 7–10 days later then EGA Wedgetail. It is suited to both grazing and grain production, or straight grain production. DS Bennett is a tall, awnless wheat and a possible replacement for Naparoo in more frost-prone areas where hay production is also part of the farming program
- Illabo – A mid maturing winter wheat, with a similar maturity and planting window to EGA Wedgetail, with higher grain yield potential. Illabo has been observed to be 2–3 days quicker to maturity than EGA Wedgetail. Good grain quality, with improved black point tolerance over EGA Wedgetail. Tolerant of acid soils, it has improved stripe rust resistance
- Longsword – A fast-maturing winter wheat, most suited to April sowings. Longsword is a true winter wheat and has three winter genes. It has Mace as a parent and is relatively quick to mature. This earlier flowering and quicker maturity provides growers in medium–low rainfall environments a more suitable variety then EGA Wedgetail or similar mid-winter types. Good physical grain package with low screenings and high test weights
- LRPB Kittyhawk – A mid maturity winter wheat, with a similar maturity and planting window to EGA Wedgetail, with higher grain yield potential. LRPB Kittyhawk has improved stripe rust resistance and grain quality over EGA Wedgetail
- Manning – A slow-maturing winter wheat that can be sown as an alternative to Mackellar in late February in some regions for early grazing. Not well suited to late April sowings due to its longer maturity. Awnless wheat with good standability. High yield potential in longer-season environments
- RGT Accroc – A red winter wheat of feed grain quality, suited to higher rainfall zones. Suitable for sowing in late February to early April for early grazing. Good standability. Flowering time and maturity is later than EGA Wedgetail
- Sunlamb – An awnless, long-season spring wheat suited to early April plantings, with strong photoperiod sensitivity. Suited to grazing and grain recovery across NSW. Similar flowering time to EGA Wedgetail, and a few days earlier than Naparoo (Matthews et al. 2018).
Table 1. Summary of new dual-purpose wheat varieties suitable for grazing and grain recovery in NSW
Year of release
Maximum quality classification^
Yellow leaf spot
Mid - Slow winter
# Rating from 2018 national disease screening for NSW or breeding company updates, check for more recent disease ratings from the 2019 Winter crop variety sowing guide for NSW. (P)–Provisional
^ Wheat quality classification based on latest information in January 2019; some new varieties might have updated classifications pending reviews by Wheat Quality Australia for the coming season.
Figure 2. Predicted initial dry matter (DM1) responses of new wheat varieties across NSW from 2011–2017 compared with EGA Wedgetail (percentage difference %) and individual predicted site performance from selected sites in central and northern NSW. DS Bennett, Longsword, LRPB Kittyhawk, Manning, Sunlamb, Naparoo and Illabo are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.
Figure 3. Predicted dry matter recovery responses of new wheat varieties following grazing (DM2) across NSW from 2011–2017 compared with EGA Wedgetail (percentage difference %) and individual predicted site performance from selected sites in central and northern NSW. DS Bennett, Longsword, LRPB Kittyhawk, Manning, Sunlamb, Naparoo and Illabo are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.
Figure 4. Predicted grain yield responses of new wheat varieties following grazing across NSW from 2011–2017 compared with EGA Wedgetail (percentage difference %) and individual predicted site performance from selected sites in central and northern NSW. DS Bennett, Longsword, LRPB Kittyhawk, Manning, Sunlamb, Naparoo and Illabo are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.
There is a strong relationship between a dual-purpose wheat dry matter production and grain yield recovery with seasonal conditions, with varieties showing they are better suited to particular climatic conditions and season length. No single variety is suited to all growing situations. Experiments across NSW have identified that there is a significant variation in performance of new varieties with older industry checks such as EGA Wedgetail, and that sowing date and in-crop management influence this performance.
Growers need to consider not only the grain yield potential of a variety, but its suitability for grazing in their region and farm business. Returns from dual-purpose crops are driven by three primary factors: grain yield, grain quality classification and dry matter/fodder production. Placing an economic value on fodder production can be difficult as it might not be directly related to livestock sales, but rather providing a fodder source in key periods through the season where pasture production is limited.
Properly managed dual-purpose wheat crops have the ability to compete with grain only crops on an economic basis and in many cases provide a higher dollar return per hectare than grain only crops.
The research undertaken as part of this project is made possible by the significant contributions of growers through both trial cooperation and the support of the GRDC, the authors would like to thank them for their continued support.
This research was co-funded by NSW DPI and GRDC under projects; DAN00184: ‘Evaluation and agronomic management of dual-purpose cereal varieties for NSW mixed farming systems’ and DAN00213 ‘GAPP – Optimising grain yield potential of winter cereals in the Northern Grains Region’.
A sincere thank you for the assistance of project staff from DAN00184 - Jennifer Pumpa, Philip Armstrong, Peter Roberts, Ryan Potts, Jessica Perry and Emma Angove for technical assistance in managing the field trials and the grower co-operators across NSW for hosting on property trials.
And project staff from DAN00213 – Dr Felicity Harris, Hugh Kanaley and Dean Maccallum (Wallendbeen experimental site) and Greg Brooke and Jayne Jenkins (Wongarbon experimental site), for project results used in this paper and presentation
Butler DG, Cullis BR, Gilmour AR and Gogel BJ (2009) ASReml- R reference manual. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
Gilmour A R, Cullis B R, and Verbyla AP (1997) Accounting for natural and extraneous variation in the analysis of field experiments. J. Agric. Biol. Environ. Statist. 2, 269–273
Matthews P, McCaffery D and Jenkins L (2018) Winter crop variety sowing guide 2018; pp. 6–32
Smith AB, Ganesalingam A, Kuchel H and Cullis BR (2015) Factor analytic mixed models for the provision of grower information from national crop variety programs. Genome, 128:55–72
Zadoks JC, Chang TT and Konzak CF (1974) A decimal code for the growth stage of cereals. Weed research 14:415-421
NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange
Ph: 02 6391 3198
Varieties displaying this symbol beside them are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.
GRDC codes: DAN00184: Evaluation and agronomic management of dual-purpose cereal varieties for NSW mixed farming systems; DAN00213: Grains Agronomy and Pathology Partnership (GAPP) – Optimising grain yield potential of winter cereals in the Northern Grains Region
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