To make sure that what we do is tailored to each grower’s individual needs, we have breeding teams located in each of the major crop production zones of Australia.
Our breeding teams at Narrabri (northern New South Wales), Wagga Wagga (southern New South Wales), Roseworthy (South Australia) and Northam (Western Australia) work together to generate new varieties and to manage experiments to assess those varieties all over Australia’s cropping zone. From Geraldton to Esperance, over to Kaniva and up to Emerald, our varieties are tested for their adaptation to our country’s varied and extreme cropping environment.
Each of our breeding centres have slightly different breeding objectives, and respond to the unique problems faced by growers in their local regions. In the north, for wheat, it might be crown rot and root lesion nematode. In the south of Western Australia, for barley, it might be powdery mildew. In South Australia and Victoria, cereal cyst nematode is a serious pest. Each of our breeding centres test germplasm in a range of seasons and locations that suffer from the full range of stresses that they may be subjected to in a farmer’s field. That means our machinery has to be designed to match what farmers are doing, and we travel long distances in search of just the right environments for our field experiments.
Our quality laboratory, based at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide, is responsible for the evaluation of processing quality. Breeding high yielding varieties only makes sense if the farmer can sell the resulting grain, ideally at a premium. This is detailed and intricate work. For wheat, each variety is milled into flour, the purified flour is made into dough and the dough is then baked into three different styles of bread and formed into two different styles of noodles. We are looking for just the right genetic combination that can achieve the elite quality standards that Australia’s quality conscious buyers are looking for.