The road to Mandelup

Meckering farmer Ray Fulwood

By Tracy Gillam

As ceremonies go, it was a modest affair, beneath a pleasing rain-bearing sky, but when the new lupin variety WALAN2141 was unveiled at the Northern Sandplain Research Annexe Field Day and formally christened Mandelup, a new era opened for WA graingrowers.

Mandelup is being hailed as a revolution in lupin breeding, answering the challenge of the devastating fungal disease anthracnose that almost brought WA"s sandplain farming system to its knees when it struck in 1996. It is also high-yielding, has improved seed protein, is resistant to aphids, has high harvest height, great early vigour, better metribuzin tolerance, and is suitable for crop topping.

The field day provided the opportunity to launch the new variety in front of 180 industry representatives, researchers and growers. Dr Bevan Buirchell, senior lupin breeder at the WA Department of Agriculture, says that the outbreak of anthracnose changed the view of the whole lupin breeding program. It introduced a new demand - disease resistance - at a time breeders were concentrating mainly on higher yields.

The outcome, in Mandelup, is a robust and productive variety that Dr Buirchell believes will replace all other lupin varieties in cropping zones with annual rainfall of less than 400 millimetres. Forty tonnes of Mandelup, or WALAN2141, were given to growers this year and Dr Buirchell says 400 to 600 tonnes should be available to farmers next season.

One of the many growers at the launch, Meckering farmer Ray Fulwood (left), says he expects Mandelup will replace Tanjil and Quilinock on his farm as the lupin variety of choice.

"During this year"s bulk-up I have been keeping a close eye on my crop of Mandelup and it looks excellent... better than I had hoped for."

Mr Fulwood says he expects the crop to yield over two tonnes a hectare. "I think the release of Mandelup is almost a rebirth of lupins in WA," he says. "Finally we have a variety with good anthracnose resistance, excellent yield potential and an improved agronomy package overall."

Lupin research in WA is carried out in partnership between the GRDC and the Department of Agriculture. The GRDC"s western panel deputy chairwoman, Dr Juliann Lloyd-Smith, says Mandelup is the fruition of 13 years of research.

"It provides farmers with a replacement lupin variety for growers in the medium and low-rainfall zones of WA," she says.

"Its metribuzin tolerance is a big advantage, particularly for growers in the northern agricultural region, where metribuzin is widely used for broadleaf weed control."

The GRDC is also investing in a project with the Department of Agriculture to screen lupin varieties with tolerance to Balance® and Affinity®.

"The GRDC"s research partnership with the Department of Agriculture is a long-term commitment by the GRDC to continue to improve the yield and the quality of the varieties available to Australian graingrowers," says Dr Lloyd-Smith.

One of the attractions for the GRDC of the WA lupin breeding program, she says, is that it delivers varieties nationally. The new variety is expected to eventually account for 20 percent of production in eastern states.

For more information:
Dr Bevan Buirchell, Senior Plant Breeder, Department of Agriculture, Locked Bag 4, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA, 6983

GRDC Research Codes: DAW 708, DAW 00105, program 2