Growers in South Australia’s low rainfall cropping regions could soon have access to better-suited lentil varieties with unique traits, with a South Australian Grain Industry Trust funded project underway.
The project, led by Larn McMurray, a pulse researcher with Global Grain Genetics (GGG), the research division of Grain Innovations Australia, aims to develop the new lentils through two strategies.
One approach is the development of lentil germplasm, which is specifically adapted for low rainfall cropping areas, by selecting for morphological and phenological adaption in a low rainfall environment from a large genetically diverse population of PBA Jumbo2 created using conventional breeding methods.
The second strategy is combining the agronomic characteristics of the high early vigour trait that was developed in a PBA Hurricane XT based breeding population by GGG, with the high-yielding disease-resistant background of PBA Jumbo2 and improved herbicide characteristics also developed concurrently by GGG.
“The trials are allowing us to look at how individual traits perform in these low-rainfall environments,” Mr McMurray said.
“We’re testing herbicide tolerance traits across a range of herbicide groups and are also looking at the early vigour trait.
“Our aim is to put these traits together to make a more robust lentil for these environments.”
Trials were sown in mid-May at Alford on the Northern Yorke Peninsula, Pinnaroo in the SA Mallee, and Hopetoun in the Victorian Mallee.
Annual rainfall at the trial sites ranges from 302mm at Hopetoun to 353mm at Alford, with growing season rainfall ranging from 176mm at Hopetoun to 254mm at Alford.
“Rainfall has been low this year, so it will be interesting to see how the high vigour lines perform,” Mr McMurray said.
Planned measurements in 2018 include plant counts, early vigour scores, biomass cuts, flowering dates and harvest measurements including height, lodging and grain yield.
“Further lines will be selected from our diverse breeding population, which was sown at Pinnaroo this year, and these will be tested in field trials in 2019 and 2020,” Mr McMurray said.
“The other part of the SAGIT-funded work is to see if we can develop some new traits which have a real importance to low-rainfall areas.
“We’re using the same process of developing genetic diversity in PBA Jumbo that we used to develop the novel traits in PBA Hurricane XT.
“We’re looking at a hectare block of the PBA Jumbo based breeding population and aiming to see what sort of diverse traits we can find, which may have benefits for low-rainfall areas.”