Sorghum growers have long said lodging is their most significant concern, with $12 million lost every year nation-wide.
To help solve that problem a new $11.6 million, five-and-a-half-year joint investment aims to de-couple the relationship between height, yield and lodging to increase the water-limited yield potential of sorghum, reducing grain-fill yield loss by 25 per cent. The knowledge and techniques developed will allow breeders to chase yield harder without greater lodging risk.
The investment comprises in-kind and cash investment between Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), global commercial partner Advanta Seeds and trusted long-term partners University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).
UQ researcher Professor David Jordan will lead the project that seeks to provide commercial sorghum breeders with the tools and germplasm to rapidly deploy pre-breeding outputs to growers, fast-tracking the path to market.
"In this project we are bringing together Australia's leading sorghum research expertise with the capacity of global industry innovator, Advanta Seeds," Professor Jordan said.
"As part of this project, we will investigate and introduce methodology that will establish consistent, robust and replicable methods that induce lodging, testing stem composition and structure - which has never been done anywhere in the world."
GRDC Business Partnering Manager, Brett Ford said the research partnership follows extensive engagement with growers, advisers, researchers, and industry about what they see as a key priority for investment. "Lodging was clearly that issue that mattered most," he said.
Advanta Seeds Australia Managing Director Barry Croker said Advanta Seeds was focused on continual improvements to crop performance and grower profitability.
"The business is a significant player in the global sorghum market and at a local, Australian level we have a long, proud history of developing locally adapted, leading sorghum hybrids under the Pacific Seeds brand.," Mr Croker said.
"This investment demonstrates our further commitment to Australia's sorghum industry and ensuring it continues to prosper long into the future."
While Advanta Seeds has a 12-month embargo on releasing results as part of the partnership, all traits will be publicly released (unless all discoveries come exclusively from Advanta germplasm).
Sorghum is the fifth-largest grain globally in terms of volume. As a nation, Australia produced roughly 20 per cent of volumes produced by the USA (the largest producer), making us a significant but medium size player on the global stage.
Dr Ford said the joint research project would put Australia at the centre of global sorghum pre-breeding research and would allow commercial breeders to rapidly deploy pre-breeding outputs.
"The collaboration creates a multi-win situation and Australia's sorghum growers should benefit most directly and tangibly from the agreement," he said.
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