Bold new era for Australian barley breeding

This story was orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Monday, 19 August, 2013

The University of Adelaide will invest more than $10 million over the next five years in its barley breeding program, promising long-term benefit for farmers with better and faster new varieties. Over time, the University will be looking to strengthen and expand sections of the program with investments from other parties.

The investment – including barley breeding royalties – is the result of constructive negotiations between the University and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to ensure that the end of the GRDC’s long-term investment in the University’s barley breeding program carries positive benefits to grains growers and to the grains industry more broadly.

“The University’s barley breeding program is the largest and most successful in Australia, and this agreement will help ensure continued delivery of high-performing barley varieties that offer even greater benefits for Australia’s barley growers,” says Waite Research Institute Director and Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Professor Mike Wilkinson.

“This investment will help us build on current research strengths to bring the latest cutting-edge science into our barley breeding efforts. Our fundamental aim is to achieve step changes in barley variety improvement.”

“Our new barley breeding centre will be more closely linked with our teaching programs with more emphasis on educating the plant breeders and agricultural scientists of the future.”

Since the launch in 1968 of the hugely successful barley Clipper, University of Adelaide-bred varieties have accounted for more than 50% of national barley production.

Barley breeding targets have included each major production and market segment including notable feed varieties Galleon, Barque, Maritime, Fleet and Fathom, as well as leading malting varieties Schooner, Sloop, SloopSA, Flagship, Commander and this year’s new commercial variety Navigator.

Hulless varieties for use in food manufacturing and specialist animal feed applications include Torrens, Macumba and Finniss.

“The University of Adelaide’s barley breeding program is recognised internationally,” says Professor Wilkinson. “With improved breeding technologies and more research, both barley growers and the barley-consuming industry will be winners.”

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