WheatRite: a rapid rain damage test kit

Antibody-based diagnostic test allows growers to quickly assess rain damage and harvest best crops first

Growers and grain handlers wanted an improved test to enable them to identify rain-damaged wheat. This prompted development by the GRDC-supported Quality Wheat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) of WheatRite™ (a diagnostic test kit which is quick, cheap, easy to use, and accurate).

It is suitable for rapid screening on-farm, at silo receivals and in the laboratory. Ron Leaman, marketing manager of Graintec, says its precision is as good as, or better than, the current method, which is expensive to set up and time-consuming to operate.

Researchers found that levels of amylase (an enzyme) correlated with weather damage. They devised an antibody-based test using a card impregnated with an antibody to the amylase. Using this test-card, wheat samples (in solution) react to produce a colour, the intensity of which indicates the amount of amylase in the sample and therefore the amount of rain damage. Interest in WheatRite is booming, with distributors worldwide.

Further test kits are now in the pipeline. Alan Ellis, business manager of the Quality Wheat CRC, reports diagnostic tests are now being developed for diseases, hard and soft wheats, and variety identification. He expected these to be available in about three years.

Contact: Mr Alan Ellis 02 9490 8488

See page 4 for a farmer's experience with WheatRite™.