Tackling pre-harvest sprouting in wheat

DS Faraday tackles pre-harvest sprouting in wheat


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DS Faraday is the first wheat variety with a tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting.

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Wheat breeder Nick Willey with DS Faraday wheat, which will be available for the 2018 season.

Wheat breeder Nick Willey with DS Faraday wheat, which will be available for the 2018 season.

ISSUES with sprouted wheat following rain prior to or during harvest have been tackled with one of the latest wheat varieties, set to be released on a large scale for the 2018 season.

A tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting is what sets the Dow Seeds wheat variety apart from the rest, according to wheat breeder Nick Willey, Tamworth.

DS Faraday, named after the 18th century English inventor Michael Faraday, is the result of collaboration between Dow Seeds and the University of Queensland.

DS Faraday wheat.

DS Faraday wheat.

Mr Willey, who leads the northern breeding program for Dow AgroSciences and Dow Seeds, said the early to mid main season planting, mid to late maturity variety’s ability to handle wet weather at or after grain fill was its biggest point of differentiation.

Pre-harvest sprouting comes at a big cost to the Australian wheat industry. The wet harvest of 2010 resulted in crop losses of approximately $100 million in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, according to a Grains Research and Development Corporation report released last year.

“We’ve been able to breed in some tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting which has been lacking in wheat varieties currently on the market,” Mr Willey said.

"If a grower’s crop is ready  but they haven't been able to harvest, whether it’s due to logistics or getting contractors in, and they get rain , other varieties can be downgraded due to sprouting damage.

“This means you can get some rain on a Faraday crop before harvest and it has a better chance of keeping its good grain quality.

“The level of tolerance depends on the temperature, humidity, and how long it rains for, but our trials have shown that it’s able to hold up with some wet weather.”

It’s a high-yielding variety, on par with other APH (Australian Prime Hard) varieties such as EGA Gregory..

“Faraday has a really strong triple rust package, so it’s essentially resistant to leaf, stripe and stem rust,” Mr Willey said.

About 60 tonnes of seed is being planted  this season, with about 1,200 hectares producing Faraday grain, from Central Queensland to central NSW.

”It’s quite widely adapted – Faraday shadows EGA Gregory’s area of adaptation.”

It’s been a shorter road to success for the wheat breeding team, thanks to speed breeding methods used by the University of Queensland in the variety’s early development.

Wheat breeder Nick Willey in a field of DA Faraday wheat.

Wheat breeder Nick Willey in a field of DA Faraday wheat.

“A standard variety can take anywhere from eight to 12 years from development to commercialisation, and normally, if you’re bringing in a new trait, such as pre-harvest sprouting tolerance, you can add two to four years to the pipeline," Mr Willey said.

“Speed breeding is rapidly cycling generations of wheat through a glasshouse environment to speed up the early development phase.

“With this collaboration we’ve been able to bring something to market much faster than usual.”

DS Faraday will be distributed by Seednet.

“We’ve gone into full-scale seed production, so seed will be widely available for 2018 planting."

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