Working with plant breeders to stay ahead of the game

Monday 20 July, 2015

AEGIC works closely with plant breeders to ensure the next generation of Australian crop varieties are in-line with international market demands.

This work is ensuring that, as the quality and end-product functionality requirements of our international customers change, Australia remains ahead of the game.

“Our team of market and technical experts are in-country, year-round talking with procurers, millers, brewers and processors of Australian grain,” AEGIC Chief Executive Officer David Fienberg said.

“An important part of our role is sharing market information and market signals with breeders, as they focus on developing new varieties that will enhance our sector, seven, eight to 10 years into the future.”

Australia is represented by four major plant (wheat) breeding companies – Longreach Plant Breeders Pty Ltd (Longreach), Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) Pty Ltd, Intergrain Pty Ltd and HRZ Wheats Pty Ltd.

For more about Australian wheat breeding see here.

LongReach Senior Wheat Breeder, Dr Bertus Jacob said contemporary breeding programs needed to respond quickly to the changing needs of end-users and AEGIC’s independent nature meant it was perfectly placed to be the conduit of information transfer.

“AEGIC’s market engagement intelligence activities are focussed on understanding the current and changing demographics and dietary preferences of Australia’s major grain markets and their future grain quality requirements.

“As breeders we need to be very aware of what customers are looking for and any trends which are predictive of future quality requirements,” Dr Jacobs said.

“In Australia grain quality is a key way for us to differentiate ourselves and that is why we need to focus on breeding for functionality.

“Australian wheat will always be blended by the customer but as long as we can deliver a premium product we can remain competitive on the world stage.”

Dr Jacobs said LongReach was working work with the industry to release the best varieties available for selected environments and to significantly reduce the period the time a variety takes to be released commercially.

“Rapid breeding cycles are essential to enable growers to meet new pest and disease challenges and to enable them to meet changing market requirements.

“This speed requires ready access to the best technologies, new breeding techniques, proprietary traits and evaluation systems.

“Australia produces only 3% of the world’s wheat production annually, so with such a relatively small market, Australian seed companies must work to maintain access to the world’s best cereal breeding technology and germplasm.”

Mr Fienberg said AEGIC was focussed on continuing to join the dots between the final destination of our grain and its very creation.

“A large part of AEGIC’s role is to bring the whole export grain continuum together.

“Ensuring breeder well connected to what is required from the performance of our cereals, oilseeds and pulses is essential.”