Elimination events for new wheats

Associate Professor Si Di Huang uses an Instron Universal Testing Machine to assess the firmness of Chinese steamed bread made from grain harvested from the Interstate Wheat Variety Trials

Any new wheat variety has to hurdle quite a few barriers before it gains industry 's seal of approval.

Each year the Bread Research Institute (BRI) tests the cream of the country's new wheats - and gives the thumbs down to those which fail to meet its stringent standards.

The wheats tested are advanced lines drawn from the Australia-wide Interstate Wheat Variety Trials. All Australian wheat breeding programs contribute to these trials.

Valuable feedback

The contributions are not all one way. In the words of West Australian Department of Agriculture wheat breeder Ian Barclay, the trials provide breeders with valuable feedback on the suitability of their new varieties (or a range of uses: not only bread, but other products such as noodles and flat bread.

The program also facilitates exchange of varieties between states and between breeders.

'A' and 'B' elimination trials

Each trial runs over two successive years and is divided into the 'A-Series' and the 'B-Series'.

In the first year the BRI does, a range of measurements - the 'A' trials - and checks such qualities as pan bread and cookie making quality. Some lines fail through poor agronomic performance or flour quality and never make it so the 'B' trials. Contender that pass the first year trial are tested again the next year.

The BRI trials A-Series wheats at six sites - one in each mainland state except NSW. where there are two. The B-Series wheats are tested at about 17 sites - a number which can vary with events like disease epidemics, waterlogging and hail damage. The management committee of the trials sits in judgement in March of each year.