Letters to the editor

Katunga wheat

Having found a very suitable wheat for our area, I am dismayed that the Australian Wheat Board is considering placing the variety Katunga into the outclassed category for Silo Area D in Victoria.

Katunga is something like the old wheat varieties grown before the introduction of dwarf varieties, in that the massive flag leaf size tends to shadow out later germinating weeds (especially canary grass). Although being a dwarf variety itself, not many wheat varieties have this quality.

Having attained yields around 5-6 t/ha over a number of years using direct drilled methods (without any in-crop chemicals) and achieving over 10 per cent protein this year, I would like to see what is wrong with this variety.

An article on breeding priorities and why varieties are phased out would be of interest.

Yours faithfully

Ken McK. Calder/p>

Maryborough, Victoria.

Ed: Ground Cover will follow up Mr Calder's suggestion with a future article. For a related story see p8 Growing weeds to beat them. Meanwhile, the following comes from the Australian Wheat Board:

The AWB has completed a major review of its classification and grading system. The existing system was not precise enough to meet the needs of today's discriminating buyers. The ASW category tended to be a repository for all wheats which were unable to find a higher returning category elsewhere.

Katunga, being a soft-grained wheat with low starch pasting viscosity qualities, and low flour water absorption levels, has been outclassed from ASW.

The GRDC-supported Wheat Quality Objectives Group found there is a limited demand for soft-grained wheat. But high starch paste viscosity is sought for some uses.

Given market demands, the AWB recommends Victorian growers focus on wheat which is moderately hard-grained, has good milling quality, moderate dough strength with good dough extensibility and, where possible, protein over 10 per cent.