New variety to help hurting growers

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Australia’s biggest wheat breeding company has opened the door for farmer-to-farmer trade of some of the most popular new varieties grown in WA to improve access to the lines for 2011 following this year’s drought.

Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) introduced a unique ‘AGT Seed Sharing’ scheme in 2008 for South Australian growers to improve access and adoption of new varieties after drought in the State, while for WA it is extending on this in response to the difficult season with the launch of open farmer trading of several varieties for 2011.

AGT WA senior marketing and operations manager Nick Joyce said that the company’s established Seed Sharing scheme permitted the sale or trade of nominated varieties for use as seed only by growers who had purchased them from recognised retailers, thereby ensuring seed purity.

But Mr Joyce said that as a one-off for WA farmers for 2011, because of the severe drought, any growers who purchased Mace, AGT Katana or Espada this season would be able to sell or trade seed to other farmers.

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Mace is eligible for Australian Hard (AH) classification and offers improved stem and stripe rust resistance, while Espada, which has been among the top five highest yielding varieties in NVT, is a mid-maturing APW wheat with improved drought tolerance as a result of its waxy leaf characteristic.

Mr Joyce said growers selling seed of the varieties would be required to advise AGT of the sale and the purchaser via an AGT Seed Sharing Licence Agreement.

“We hope this can assist farmers facing difficulty due to the drought and allow them to more quickly adopt the best performing new varieties for their production, ” he said.

Ray Fulwood, who grows Mace and Espada wheats on the family’s Meenar Farm property near Northam, welcomed the open farmer trading of the AGT varieties.

“Farmers will be able to buy decent quantities which will extend the adoption of the varieties in WA and their production benefit, ” Mr Fulwood said.

He said Mace was the property’s best yielding wheat and was “looking amazingly good” considering it had received only 150mm of rainfall.

Espada was ranked second and had been the “quiet achiever”.

“It is a good yielder and it is a little later maturing, so it reduces the frost window, ” Mr Fulwood said.

Growers seeking further information on the AGT Seed Sharing scheme and Mace, AGT Katana and Espada wheat varieties should contact their local agronomist or consultant.

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