Ground Cover has previously reported on the development of a durum variety suitable for saline country. Success is now not far off, according to the head of the NSW Agriculture/Enterprise Grains Australian durum wheat breeding program, Ray Hare. Dr Hare said CSIRO researchers have found a molecular marker for at least one of the key sodium exclusion genes (working with an ancient Persian wheat variety) and advanced breeding lines with this gene have been produced and are awaiting fieldtesting. "If all goes as well with the field trials as I expect, we will push for their release in about three years. That's not far off for wheat breeding." The researchers say test results indicate that the new durum wheat has salt tolerance equal to bread wheat, giving growers in salt-affected areas an alternative profitable crop.

Contact: Dr Rana Munns 02 6246 5280 Dr Ray Hare 02 6763 1232