Lentils may find a home in WA

Fast fact

  • Following the results of this research, seed companies are growing PBA Hurricane XT so WA growers can source local seed, with around 600ha of lentils planted in WA this year.

New Group B herbicide-tolerant lentil varieties may boost the crop’s potential in Western Australia, which has not had the same break-crop options as other grain-growing regions

Photo of Peter Schulz, Dongara, WA

Peter Schultz, of Dongara, WA, grew the first seed crop of PBA Hurricane XT lentil seed for PBSeeds in 2015.

PHOTO: Coorow Seeds

Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) lentil trials in Western Australia have found unexpectedly high yields of lines with some imidazolinone tolerance on soils with unknown herbicide residues, which may explain WA growers’ limited success with conventional lentil varieties.

If so, the high-yielding XT lentil variety PBA Hurricane XT (and future XT varieties) could be an opportunity for WA growers to develop a reliable and profitable lentil industry.

Historically, lentil growing in WA has been limited as lentils are better adapted to the heavier, higher-pH soils of eastern Australia, rather than the sandy, acidic soils that dominate many WA farming districts.

The PBA lentil breeding project (2010–16) evaluated new and existing lentil varieties at sites across the WA wheatbelt in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA).

Replicated yield trials were run near Dalwallinu (2010-11), Mingenew (2011–15) and at the DAFWA research farm at Merredin (2012–15). The germplasm was also tested at National Variety Trials (NVT) and PBA sites in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

Genotypic ranking of varieties for yield in WA was compared with mean yield data from SA and Victoria to see if there were regional differences in germplasm performance.

Results

In the WA trials in 2010, 2011 and 2013 (2012 trials failed due to drought) yield rankings of breeding lines were not consistent with long-term means from NVT data.

The lines with some imidazolinone tolerance (Imi-T) performed significantly better than commercial checks. This was unusual as conventional lines have generally outperformed these first Imi-T lines in long-term yield data.

Given the significant yield advantages of the Imi-T lines in most WA trials, it seems likely that Dalwallinu, Mingenew (2013) and Merredin were affected by Group B residual herbicides.

The first Imi-T lentil released, PBA Herald XT,  has lower yield potential than conventional cultivars such as PBA Ace and PBA Bolt. However, in two of the four presumably residue-affected trials, PBA Herald XT yielded higher than these conventional cultivars.

PBA Hurricane XT yielded significantly higher than PBA Ace and PBA Bolt at Dalwallinu in 2010 and Mingenew in 2013, and higher than PBA Ace at Dalwallinu in 2011.

The 2010 trial at Dalwallinu evaluated 68 breeding lines. Although the trial was low yielding (site mean yield was 340 kilograms per hectare), 12 of the top 15 yielding lines were Imi-T, and none of the Imi-T lines ranked any lower than 15th.

PBA Hurricane XT yielded 690kg/ha, 2.7 times that of PBA Ace (271kg/ha).

However, not all of the herbicide-affected trials were low yielding. At Dalwallinu in 2011, PBA Hurricane XT and CIPAL1102 (Imi-T) both achieved 2t/ha, compared with 1.3 and 1.7t/ha for PBA Ace and PBA Bolt respectively, two of the highest-yielding lentil lines in long-term yield data.

Mingenew in 2011 was a significant contrast to the other WA sites as it had a site mean yield of 3t/ha and the cultivar yield ranking was consistent with that seen in long-term yields in eastern Australia. The yield of PBA Hurricane XTA was consistent with its known yield potential in normal conditions – it was similar to PBA Bolt but lower than PBA Ace and PBA Jumbo2.

These trials have shown a trend of unexpectedly high performance of imidazolinone-tolerant lentils on soils without known residues, suggesting that Group B herbicide residues are relatively common. Imidazolinone residues are thought to persist longer in sandy, acidic soils.

For WA growers looking to adopt lentils, the high-yielding XT varieties, PBA Hurricane XT and new varieties soon to be released, are clearly a lower-risk option for profitable lentil production. Following the results of this research, PBSeeds grew seed of PBA Hurricane XT with a WA grower at Dongara in 2015. This year a dozen growers were able to source local PBA Hurricane XT seed through Coorow Seeds to sow around 600ha of lentils in WA.

More information:

Matthew Rodda,

matthew.rodda@ecodev.vic.gov.au;

Janine Sounness, PBSeeds,
0407 827 292;

Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA)

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GRDC Project Code DAV00119

Region West