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New wheat cultivars anticipated from cereal breeding partner

New wheat cultivars anticipated from cereal breeding partnership

Christchurch, 31 January 2012 - An expanded breeding programme will result in new varieties of wheat and barley being made available for New Zealand growers, delivering high yields and improved resistance to disease.

Plant & Food Research and Luisetti Seeds have signed an agreement to renew and expand their cereal grain breeding programme, the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The programme will focus on the breeding of new high yield wheat cultivars with good milling quality and dough properties, as well as new wheat and barley cultivars for animal feed.

The joint cereal breeding programme was initiated in the 1990s, and has resulted in the release of several successful cultivars, including Regency Wheat, developed specifically to meet the demands of the milling industry at the time; Conquest, the leading Premium 1 milling wheat cultivar in New Zealand; Saracen, a medium quality milling wheat with high yields; as well as feed wheat cultivars Wakanui and Excede and feed barleys Bumpa and Booma, which have been top of national trials for a variety of environments, particularly under conditions with lower fungicide applications.

A new high yielding feed wheat CRWT 168 and a new biscuit variety “Empress” are due to be released this year. Two potential Conquest replacements with improved rust resistance are also in an advanced stage of development.

Luisetti Seeds director Vincent Luisetti says new varieties are key to the success of both the grain trade and growers in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a unique environment for growing cereal grains, and having cultivars that are bred here allows us to directly address the specific requirements of both growers and end users. This, combined with the multidisciplinary team involved in the breeding programme, is what marks the difference between cultivars developed in New Zealand and those that have been directly imported.”

Peter Landon-Lane, CEO of Plant & Food Research, says this new agreement will create benefits across the arable food supply chain.

“This further development of our successful relationship with Luisetti Seeds will allow us to continue working with industry to ensure our research is well focused on delivering new cultivars for New Zealand. The new cultivars will not only provide benefits for growers, but also support the arable food sector in delivering products that meet both industry and consumer demands.”

Plant & Food Research’s cereal breeding team is based in Lincoln, led by breeders Steve Shorter and Andy Hay and agronomist Ross Hanson, and has the added advantage of specialist input from geneticists, plant pathologists, entomologists and food technologists from across the Institute. New varieties are extensively tested for yield and quality in multi-site and season trials, and in specialist nurseries to evaluate pre-harvest sprouting, and pest and disease resistance.

ENDS

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