Breeding great southern wheats

Wheat breeder Peter Martin in a crop of Chara: a new generation of Prime Hard wheats adapted to local conditions is opening new markets for southern growers

Chara, one of the few Australian-bred wheats with characteristics similar to the Dark Northern Spring wheats of North America, is expected by marketers to help give southern Australia a wheat quality spectrum comparable to the northern segregation.

It is an output of the Victorian Institute of Dryland Agriculture (VIDA) at Horsham, which aims to produce adapted, disease-resistant varieties with high qualities that will attract a market premium.

VIDA focuses on wheats that are suitable for southern Australia. Conventional plant breeding techniques of hybridisation and selection are used as the basis of developing the new varieties. However, the efficiency of selection is being aided by newer technologies, such as molecular markers, which are used mainly in selection for disease resistance in very early generations, and near-infrared spectroscopy to select for a range of quality traits in the mid-generations. All recent Horsham releases have the combination of resistance to the three rusts and cereal cyst nematode which were developed using interspecific crosses and molecular markers.

Program 1.6.2 Contact: Dr Russell Eastwood 03 5362 2111