This soft option is good news
A soft biscuit wheat, due for release by the Narrabri Plant Breeding Institute for the year 2000 season, will provide a new rotational option for graingrowers in northern NSW and southern Queensland — particularly those who also grow cotton.
The new variety is undergoing final selection from three lines bred by the Quality Wheat CRC. Production of the new soft wheat variety in the northern grains region also offers biscuit-makers in Sydney and Brisbane an alternative supply to current sources from southern Australia.
The Arnotts company, collaborator in the Quality Wheat CRC and purchaser of some 50 per cent of eastern Australian production of soft wheats, found trial quantities of the new soft wheat lines to have better quality than the control flour the company used last year.
According to Ada De Palo, applied research scientist with Arnotts, the new wheat lines have low protein levels, high milling quality, low water absorption, short dough mixing time and good extensibility.
Rust-resistant and suited to cotton
Quality Wheat CRC wheat breeder and PBI head Lindsay O'Brien says the soft wheats came from a fairly complex crossing program that incorporated resistances to stem, leaf and stripe rust in two currently popular southern wheats, Tincurrin and Tatiara.
"Genetically they are 1-2 per cent lower in protein than the hard wheats normally sown in northern NSW and Queensland, because the biscuit manufacturers are looking for 8-9.5 cent," Dr O'Brien said.
"That particularly suits rotation with cotton, which draws heavily on soil water and nutrients, creating the low-fertility conditions that soft wheats need. Many cotton growers have irrigation, allowing them to manage soil moisture and nitrogen levels to meet the required protein levels.
"Soft wheat will provide a disease break and residual stubble, as well as the grain crop itself and, because this new variety is quick-maturing, it will also allow more time for planting after a summer cotton crop than a slower growing variety like Sunsoft."
Contact: Dr Lindsay O'Brien 02 6799 2200