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New pulse varieties set to boost crop production in the Australian state of Victoria

Greenbio.checkbiotech.org, 20 Oct, 2009

Three new pulse varieties suited to the Victorian cropping zone were launched today at Minyip, along with their variety management and marketing packages.

The two lentils, PBA Flash and PBA Bounty, and the chickpea PBA Slasher, will be commercially available for the 2010 winter cropping season.

The pulses were launched by Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) in association with its lentil and chickpea commercial seed partners PB Seeds and AWB Seeds respectively during a pulse field day at the Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) agronomy research site at Minyip.

Offering growers improved reliability, the new varieties’ release is supported by growers and the Australian Government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and PBA partner agencies.

According to Pulse Australia’s Wayne Hawthorne, as field day co-convenor, the release of these varieties offers greater options to growers to help stabilise and increase pulse production. The varieties offer more yield, are better adapted to some areas, offer improved quality and fit the modern farming systems for pulses.

Jason Brand, DPI Victoria Pulse Research Agronomist and also a field day co-convenor, said that pulse crops occupied 173,000 hectares of Victoria cropping land, with a likely farm gate value in excess of $98 million a year. Lentils, in particular, are a valuable crop for Victorian growers, fetching between $600-$800 per tonne, about three times the value of wheat.

Pulses grown in Victoria and throughout Australia feed millions of people worldwide, and the new varieties launched today at Minyip are expected to be well received by international markets.

PBA Flash is suited to all lentil-growing areas, particularly shorter season areas where its high yield and earlier maturity improves reliability of yield. Its earlier maturity makes it the best variety for timely crop topping to control weeds.

PBA Bounty is a high-yielding red lentil, broadly adapted and suited to most lentil-growing environments. It is the highest-yielding, small-seeded red lentil in Australia. Similar to PBA Flash, it is moderately resistant to ascochyta blight and has improved tolerance to salinity, compared to Nugget.

PBA Slasher is a new desi-type chickpea variety for southern Australia. It is resistant to ascochyta blight and has produced excellent yields across a range of environments. It will suit chickpea growers who want an alternative to current desi and small kabuli types in southern Australia.

GRDC southern panel chair, David Shannon, says the new pulse varieties are part of a pipeline of pulse varieties that will be released by PBA over a five year period.

“PBA provides a single world-class breeding and germplasm enhancement program for chickpeas, field peas, faba beans, lentils and lupins in Australia,” Mr Shannon said. “The GRDC, along with the other PBA partners, is pleased to support PBA in bringing growers varieties with improved yield, harvestability, disease resistance, tolerance to abiotic stresses, quality and weed management.”

Mr Shannon said pulses were an important part of crop rotations.

“Pulses fix atmospheric nitrogen to reduce the fertiliser requirement of following cereal crops, they help to reduce the incidence of cereal diseases and provide opportunities to manage herbicide resistance, all of which lead to better financial and environmental outcomes for growers and the grains industry overall,” Mr Shannon said.

In conjunction with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, the South Australian Research and Development Institute and NSW I&I, GRDC also funds pulse agronomy and pathology research projects.

Source: GRDC (Grains Research & Development Corporation)

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