THE significant differences between the genetic material in Australian wheat varieties and their European counterparts could have big benefits for the Australian grains industry, says French-based breeder Samuel Gaste, as researchers inject European germplasm into varieties for Australia, which could help boost the yields of Aussie varieties.
Cereal and pulse business director for French grain breeding giant RAGT Semences, Mr Gaste - pictured at a field day for Seed Force, the southern hemisphere seed breeder in which RAGT has a stake, at Lake Bolac in Victoria’s Western District - said there was often a distinct difference in looks between Australian varieties and European wheat varieties.
He said the Seed Force trial work, which will lead to the release of two red wheats next year, Scenario and Ovalo, could see big yield benefits, as there has been little work in red wheat in Australia.
At present, all Australian red wheats can only be used for feed purposes and there are only a limited number of varieties available.
All the work is focused on winter red wheat, designed to go into the feed market.
While Seed Force will market Scenario and Ovalo as feed wheat to begin with, trial work has shown the quality is actually good.
“A lot of red wheat in France is used for milling purposes,” Mr Gaste, who is based in Rodez, in central-southern France, said.
Seed Force managing director Warwick Green said the aim of the Seed Force breeding was to have lines that had good quality if red wheat was ever accepted as milling quality in Australia.
Already, the two lines have yielded exceptionally in the high rainfall zones of Victoria, where they are being targeted, above other red wheats common in the area such as Frelon and Revenue.
The French germplasm in the varieties is likely to help with tolerance to sprouting, one of the major problems with Australian varieties in increasingly wet summers.
“The European lines generally have much better tolerance to sprouting,” Mr Gaste said.
However, while Mr Gaste said there was a lot of work in France that could yield genetic material useful to breeding varieties suited to Australia’s high rainfall zones, he also added that RAGT’s breeding looked at a range of climatic regions.
“We’ve got some big programs in the south of Spain, where it can get very dry, and there is also work in eastern Europe.”