New varieties focus of field day

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Australian Grain Technologies' (AGT) inaugural WA field day attracted more than 40 growers and industry representatives.

The field day, held at the company's Meckering trial site on September 28, gave people an opportunity to view dozens of trial plots.

AGT's new wheat variety, VW2316, drew plenty of attention.

AGT senior wheat breeder Jason Reinheimer said VW2316 was suited to medium-to-low rainfall areas.

"It is a Wyalkatchem-type variety, but it flowers three to seven days earlier than Mace and Wyalkatchem," he said.

"It outperforms most other wheat varieties in medium to low rainfall areas. When the season cuts off sharply, it is able to maintain yield.

"It has better early vigour through winter than most other varieties and good sprouting tolerance."

Mr Reinheimer said the new variety yielded 10 per cent higher than Mace last year at the Meckering trial site.

AGT WA senior marketing and operations manager Nick Joyce spoke about AGT's Clearfield wheat varieties.

He said AGT was in the process of engineering wheat to be resistant to grass herbicides.

"Wheat has three genomes, unlike humans who have one," he said.

"We put a resistant gene in one of the genomes, so the other two are still susceptible to the herbicide. We've got high yielding wheat varieties that are also a good weed control tool."

Mr Reinheimer also spoke about the breeding process that goes into developing new varieties.

Growers at the field day learnt about the selection process involved in refining a plant population of 250,000 to one variety.

Cold temperatures overnight ahead of the field day prompted people to ask questions about frost-resistant wheat.

Mr Reinheimer said there was not a great difference between most Australian wheat varieties in terms of frost tolerance.

"All head types react similarly to frost," he said.

"Some varieties are better than others, but the maturity of a crop determines how it is going to be affected by frost. Flowering is the most susceptible stage."

AGT's Meckering trial site consists of three to four hectares of up to 10,000 breeding and demonstration plots.

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