Huge potential for water-efficient wheat

The latest trials of a Graingene-bred water-efficient wheat variety have shown it has the potential to add millions of dollars to the value of the NSW wheat crop. In 12 independent field trials held across New South Wales in 2003, Drysdale wheat yielded an average of 23 per cent more grain than the current recommended variety Diamondbird, despite very dry conditions.

“If Drysdale was sown throughout southern and central New South Wales, it could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the average crop value,” says CSIRO’s Dr Richard Richards. “Based on 2003 crop data, this could earn farmers over $100 per hectare extra income and mean the difference between a good or a bad year.”

While these results demonstrated Drysdale’s performance in dry years, in further trials it has also consistently been one of the best varieties under irrigation.

Drysdale was developed using a new scientific selection method known as DELTA carbon, based on measuring a plant’s carbon isotope signature. A second variety bred using the technique, Rees, was released last year and has performed well in northern NSW and Queensland.

“By using this revolutionary technique, we were able to breed varieties of wheat that more efficiently exchange atmospheric carbon dioxide for water during photosynthesis,” Dr Richards says.

Yield data on Drysdale was gathered in AgriTech Crop Research field trials, commissioned by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Full trial data will be available on the AgriTech website, www.agritech.com.au, in March.

Graingene, a joint venture between AWB Ltd, the GRDC, Syngenta and CSIRO Plant Industry, released Drysdale in 2002. The variety was developed in collaboration with NSW Agriculture and is being commercialised and distributed by AWB Seeds. The DELTA carbon technology was developed in collaboration with the ANU.

More information:
Dr Richard Richards, CSIRO Plant Industry, 02 6246 5090, mobile: 427 289 905
Email: richard.richards@csiro.au
Stephanie von Gavel, Graingene, 02 6283 8123, mobile: 0438 433 254
Roger Tripathi, AWB Seeds, 03 9209 2699
AWB Grower Services Centre, 1800 054 433
Visit: www.csiro.au/drysdale

Media assistance:
Tony Steeper, CSIRO Plant Industry, 02 6246 5323, mobile: 0417 032 131
Email: tony.steeper@csiro.au

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