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News

New wheat gives bigger yields, even in drought

CSIRO : 22 October, 2002  (New Product)
A new variety of high-grade wheat capable of increasing grain yields in drought-affected areas by up to 10 per cent was released at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute today.
CSIRO Plant Industry scientist Dr Richard Richards says the new Drysdale semi-dwarf strain utilises available soil moisture more efficiently than other dry-area wheat varieties.

'It has a major advantage over comparable wheats in dry years, producing about 10 per cent more grain despite receiving the same rainfall,' Dr Richards says.

'Drysdale also has a high resistance to all the major wheat diseases, a high tolerance to acid soils and, because the quality of its grain is high, growers will receive a premium price for it.'

The new strain is the result of a biotechnological breakthrough by CSIRO Plant Industry and Australian National University scientists, with NSW Agriculture identifying important agronomic characteristics.

'Drysdale is the first variety of any plant released anywhere in the world to be developed using a new scientific gene selection criteria based on measuring a plant's carbon isotope signature,' Dr Richards says.

'By using this revolutionary technique, we were able to breed a new variety of wheat that more efficiently exchanges atmospheric carbon dioxide for water during photosynthesis.'

The team's success in 'cracking the elegant biophysical theory' behind the new selection process should lead to the development of more improved crop varieties in Australia, and overseas.

'We are developing another wheat variety in the same way in Queensland, which could well be released next year. I expect this could be the first of many,' Dr Richards says.

'The technology is attracting a lot of international interest as it offers tremendous promise for improving the potential to grow high yielding crops in the world's dry areas,' he says.

Drysdale is the first commercial release of a wheat variety from Graingene, a joint venture between AWB Limited, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and CSIRO Plant Industry.

The variety was developed in collaboration with ANU and NSW Agriculture and is being commercialised and distributed by AWB Seeds.
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