AUSTRALIA'S leading crop geneticists and disease researchers are going "head to head" in a race to identify new germplasm that will allow cereal crops to yield well under crown rot pressure.
Grains Research and Development Corporation northern panel chair James Clark said growers will know by the end of the year if the major GRDC-funded project has been successful.
The corporation has funded research partners to develop wheat and barley lines capable of stable yield when grown in the presence of varying amounts of crown rot inoculum.
"Any material that is proven to yield under controlled conditions in the paddock will be given immediately to breeding companies," Mr Clark said.
"This will ensure that new varieties will become available to growers in the shortest time possible."
This year, side-by-side comparisons of new germplasm, under controlled conditions with special statistical design, are being conducted at the University of Sydney's IA Watson Wheat Research Centre at Narrabri.
Previous attempts to produce crown rot resistant varieties have been restricted by the necessity to achieve minimum standards in other traits such as stem rust resistance and high quality.
"It's time to take a new approach and concentrate on adding different sources of crown rot tolerance and/or resistance to adapted germplasm, and get this out to growers as fast as possible," Mr Clark said.
"Stubble from previous crops provides an ideal substrate for crown rot to survive so under our northern farming system so it is unlikely crown rot can be eliminated.
"This means a genetic solution is the most appropriate way to produce varieties that can yield in the presence of the disease.
"Growers need access to varieties that are able to achieve high grain yield when grown under conditions that favour crown rot development, a good start with good nutrition and a hard finish."
Mr Clark said the projects were closely linked and information and genetic material will be shared.
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