Standing ear to ear against the nematodes

Harvesting Pelsart, October 1996 on the property of Ossie and Vi Lange, Macalister, Queensland.

Recent releases by breeders in Queensland and northern NSW have equipped growers with wheats which will yield well even when nematodes are present in their soils.

John Sheppard of the Queensland Wheat Research Institute (QWRI) believes that many growers will be looking toward Pelsart or Sunvale, both of which have a high level of tolerance to the root lesion nematode (RLN) (Pratylenchus thorneii).

High praise for Pelsart

David Clapham farms at Jimbour, north of Dalby. He previously grew Kite, but said his last crop wasn't worth harvesting after the nematodes had finished with it. He planted Pelsart to overcome the problem and has now grown it successfully for three years.

Mr Clapham said the first two years were dry, and then some crops suffered from lodging, but this was probably due to cracking soils. This year, which was much wetter, he harvested just over 3.7 t/ha and a protein level of 12-13 per cent. He will be growing Pelsart again next year.

Ossie and Vi Lange grow Pelsart at Macalister. Mr Lange has no reservations about a crop that yielded 4.35 t/ha (protein 10.5 per cent).

"It's fantastic," he said. "Even though I had high numbers of nematodes in the soil, the Institute recommended Pelsart which was a great success. QWRI has been the best thing since sliced bread."

Tasman — miller's choice

Scott Hamilton near Condamine grew Tasman, another tolerant variety, under contract to Weston Milling.

"It's good to harvest and stands up well," Mr Hamilton said. While the first cropping year (1994) yielded 1.03 t/ha yields were badly affected by frosts in 1995.

Disease struck in 1996. Tasman yielded "incredibly well" — about 4.94 t/ha — but suffered from black point. Mr Hamilton said the flour mills weren't happy with it, so he wouldn't be growing it again.

Tasman still worth milling

Dennis Hawke of Weston Milling in Brisbane agreed that the season had been a bad one for black point and that Tasman seemed particularly susceptible. But because the quality was so good his firm would still buy Tasman which is within the receival standards for black point.

"Tasman and Pelsart have good milling quality, good flour and baking quality and are especially suitable for large automated plant bakeries," Mr Hawke said.

"Pelsart is classed Prime Hard by the AWB (Australian Wheat Board) and domestic millers, whereas Tasman is classed as Australian Hard by the AWB. However, certain domestic millers are paying Prime Hard equivalent premiums for Tasman at 13 per cent protein and Prime Hard quality."

Mr Hawke said two of the three largest Queensland mills were keen on Tasman. He advised Tasman growers to shop around the millers and contract their crop early — at sowing or soon after.

Tolerance of wheat varieties to root-lesion nematodes assessed as grain yeild on nematode-infested land.
Tolerance to P. thorneiiVarietyMaturity groupAverage yield (t/ha)
Very highPelsartintermediate4.1
Very highSunvaleslow4.1
HighSunbrookvery slow3.2
HighSunbrivery slow3.2
MediumHybrid Pulsarquick2.4
MediumHoutman (C Qld)intermediate2.4
MediumHybrid Meteorintermediate2.4
MediumMiskle (C Old)slow2.4
LowHybrid Mercuryquick1.7
LowHybrid Geminiquick1.7
LowHybrid Apollointermediate1.7

'Sun' varieties perform well

Northern NSW growers continued to plant varieties developed by Sydney University's Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri.

Ron Greentree sows large areas to wheat near Rowena and is enthusiastic about the recent releases Sunvale and Sunbrook.

"Sunbrook was absolutely excellent. It performed very well, and showed great plant vigour. Sunvale also is as good as the other varieties, and both are very good to harvest."

Allan Young of Bellata harvested about 4 t/ha of Sunvale. He believes it handles the nematodes better than existing varieties, and will be growing it gain.

Andrew Langfield found that on his harder country (Spring Ridge, near Gunnedah) Sunvale gave him no yield advantage over Sunco, and shelled out just as badly. He found Sunco more suitable to no-till farming because of its better resistance to crown rot.

Tolerance of durum wheat varieties to root-lesion nematodes assessed as grain yield on nematode-infested land
Tolerance to P. thorneiiVarietyMaturity groupAverage yield (t/ha)
Very highYallaroiquick3.5

Tolerance of barley varieties to root-lesion nematodes assessed as grain yield on nematode-infested land
Tolerance to P. thorneiiVarietyMaturity groupAverage yield (t/ha)
Very highSkiffintermediate3.9
Very highGrimmettintermediate3.9
Very highTallonintermediate3.9
Very highGilbertslow3.9

Subprogram 1.6.1 Contact: Mr John Sheppard 076 398 888 or Mr Frank Ellison 067 921 588

Region North, South, West