The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) invests $12.7 million in a four-year national research project to integrate long coleoptile wheat into Australian farming systems. Long coleoptile wheat can be sown deeper than traditional varieties, enabling better use of stored soil moisture. In addition, the project will address knowledge gaps on how these genetics perform across varying production environments, soils, and farming systems.
The project will be led by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, with research parties including the University of Melbourne, NSW Department of Primary Industries, QLD Department of Agriculture and Forestry, SLR Agriculture, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the University of South Australia, and EPAG Research. The research will explore a range of genetic, environmental, and management factors relating to lengthy coleoptile wheat implementation. In addition, the project will develop a common industry standard for measuring and defining the categories for wheat coleoptile length.
The climatic modeling work using on-farm field and usage trials suggests a 20% increase in yields from lengthy coleoptile varieties, with the goal being more ‘crop for drop’ in sowing and getting the crop away at the right time of year. This approach aims to avoid delayed germination and emergence, which can cause reduced yields. New lengthy coleoptile wheat varieties are being developed and are close to commercial release, and this project will create supporting agronomic packages so growers can optimize their performance.
Grower interest in long coleoptile or ‘moisture seeking’ wheat is vital, particularly in WA, where growers have been involved in trials over the past three years to inform future agronomic and farming systems guidelines. Mr. Wesley, a Southern Cross grower, reported a 25% increase in water productivity by sowing early using lengthy coleoptile varieties, yielding 1.3 tonnes in a decile one rainfall year. The project aims to mitigate sowing risks for growers and provide greater flexibility around sowing time.
Photo by Tomasz Filipek on Unsplash
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