Bringing home the biscuit wheats

Soft wheat breeder Dr Shakir Hussain Shah surrounded by QAL2000 at the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri. The new soft biscuit line was bred in response to manufacturers' needs and also is rust-resistant and adapted for growing conditions in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Arnott's Biscuits wanted a more local supply of good-quality, soft biscuit wheat for its factories in Sydney and Brisbane, rather than having to ship it across the continent.

Lindsay O'Brien and Shakir Hussain Shah of the Narrabri Plant Breeding Institute, working with the GRDC-supported Quality Wheat Cooperative Research Centre, led the team that developed the wheat variety that Arnott's needed.

Industry wanted a quick response. This was achieved using a complex backcrossing strategy with two generations per year, with one site at Narrabri (northern NSW) and a second at Numurkah (Victoria).

Screening for rust resistance was done concurrently, also saving time. Yield and quality testing (milling and dough testing) were undertaken at multiple sites from the Queensland border to Victoria. Arnott's developed a laboratory-scale test baking system and performance was confirmed using a factory-scale evaluation.

The result is QAL2000, a quick-maturing, soft biscuit wheat which has 8-9.5 per cent protein and ideally suits the needs of biscuit makers, says Dr O'Brien. The new line is rust-resistant and adapted for growing conditions in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

It provides a number of other bonuses, including a new rotational choice for cotton growers who use wheat as a disease break crop, and more time for planting after a summer crop than current slow-growing varieties. QAL2000 will be released for production in 2001, with pilot-scale production being undertaken in 2000.

Program 1.2.5 Contact: Dr Lindsay O'Brien 02 6799 2201, Dr Shakir Hussain Shah 02 6799 2214

Region North