Cross Country Focus on Barley in 99

Photo of a tracktor in a barley field

A special focus on a major facelift for the Western Australian barley industry will feature on Cross Country this year as grower-supported research through the GRDC continues to enliven the rural TV program.

The West Australian five-year project began in 1997 and is looking at ways of improving the State's production of high-yielding and high-quality malting barley.

Cross Country travelled to Esperance on WA's south coast to look at research aimed at reducing the effects of weather staining.

This is in response to the demand from maltsters for bright, plump grain and less heavily discoloured grain that leads to problems in the malt house and brewery.

With GRDC support, Research Officer from Agriculture Western Australia, Kevin Young, spent 1995 studying a barley weather-staining project in Minnesota. Mr Young is putting this knowledge to good use for the GRDC supported WA Barley Development Project, as viewers of Cross Country will see later this year.

Another research highlight benefiting the country's multi-million dollar barley industry, will show how the University of Adelaide's Department of Plant Science is racing to release improved cereal varieties using molecular markers. The National Barley Molecular Marker Program has assisted breeders to fast-track the identification of important traits and cross them into superior varieties.

"Molecular markers are being used to develop pathogen and disease resistance, for example to cereal cyst nematode, some forms of leaf diseases, like spot form of net blotch, powdery mildew and barley yellow dwarf virus. We're now just starting to use molecular markers for really complicated traits like malting quality traits," said Steve Jefferies, Barley Breeder SA Barley Improvement Program.

Watch for grower-supported programs through the GRDC on Cross Country. Cross Country can be seen throughout Australia, Asia and the Pacific. The program is broadcast on Channel Seven in all Australian capital cities each Saturday at 6 a.m. In most country areas Cross Country is repeated at 11.30 a.m. on the Prime Network or Channel Seven's affiliate stations. Check local guides for further broadcast information.