Durum cropping option for Vic.

Mr Robert Christie

If Australia matched US pasta consumption trends, local demand could expand to 400,000 tonnes in 10-15 years.

Durum wheat production, largely ignored in Victoria, offers a profitable cropping option for many growers, according to Robert Christie.

Mr Christie, of Agriculture Victoria. Horsham, said durum growers had to achieve a consistent grain protein higher than 11.5 per cent and there were plenty of Victorian farmers doing this in the high-yielding 425-450 mm rainfall zone.

Mr Christie said the $33 million-plus durum wheat industry now centred on northern NSW. southern Queensland and South Australia. Australian production was about 165,000 tonnes a year, with on-farm prices exceeding that of Australian Hard in SA and $10-$15 a tonne higher than Australian Prime Hard in the northern States.

Successful durum wheat production requires well-planned rotations with a good legume history to ensure soil fertility and soil and crop nitrogen monitoring, he said.

Durums are best adapted to fertile heavier soils with good water retention. Ample fertiliser is necessary for high yields and to help boost grain protein levels.

Yallaroi best for Victoria

"Yallaroi is the best yielding variety in SA, and being cereal cyst nematode resistant is probably the most suited to Victoria. However, it is very sensitive to boron, and farmers should avoid growing durums in these areas." said Mr Christie Other varieties under trial at Walpeup and Horsham included Kronos and Wallaroi.

He said risk minimisation can be achieved by producing durum with a protein higher than 11.5 per cent, by eliminating disease risks with good rotations and by contracting with end users.

Region North