In recognition of the growing need for slower maturing, milling quality wheat varieties suited to higher rainfall environments of southern Australia, AGT have developed the outstanding new variety, Willaura.
Willaura was officially released at the Southern Farming Systems ‘Agrifocus’ field day held at Streatham, Victoria, on 19th October, by AGT wheat breeder Britt Kalmeier.
“Willaura is a fantastic variety choice for an environment like Streatham, with its compact canopy and good straw strength giving improved standability relative to some other varieties under the very high yield potential that we see here”.
The new wheat variety named after the country town in western Victoria, has been developed specifically to thrive in the longer season cropping regions traditionally dominated by red-grained, feed quality, winter varieties.
“By growing Willaura, farmers in Victoria’s Western District and SA’s lower South East have more marketing flexibility at harvest. Willaura is a white grained variety and has an AH quality classification, opening up many more avenues to market compared with the red-grained varieties that get grown extensively in high rainfall areas” explains Britt.
The new variety is a product of AGTs commitment to the breeding of better crop varieties for Australian growers, resulting in a specialised wheat variety tailor-made for a particular region. It is a market gap that Britt Kalmeier has been working to fill for a long time and is now excited to see closed.
“I can’t wait to highlight what local breeding investment has achieved for this area. Southern Victorian wheat growers have traditionally used varieties bred overseas or main-season wheat varieties bred for the North and West because they were all they had access to”.
“We are now seeing the results of targeted breeding efforts from AGT for some of the more unique grain growing environments of Australia”.
Willaura is a slow-very slow maturing spring wheat, reaching head emergence over a week later than milling wheats Rockstar and LRPB Trojan, and at a similar time to popular red-grained feed variety LRPB Beaufort. Across early season trials, Willaura has recorded improvements in grain yield over Rockstar and LRPB Trojan, and comparable or slightly higher than LRPB Beaufort.
A wet back-half of the 2022 cropping season in many areas has seen extremely high disease pressure present in wheat crops, with the fight against stripe rust a particularly hard battle.
AGT’s Variety Support Manager for Victoria, Rob Harris, believes that Willaura’s stripe rust resistance is another valuable trait that growers can benefit from.
“Willaura enters the market with a provisional rating of MRMS to stripe rust, which is considerably better than other milling grade wheats like Rockstar and LRPB Trojan”.
“This level of genetic resistance to stripe rust is very handy to have in a variety grown in areas like the Western District where poor trafficability on wet paddocks can make applying fungicides very difficult”.
Commercial quantities of Willaura seed will be available for the 2023 season through AGT Affiliates and local retailers.
Photo: AGT wheat breeder Britt Kalmeier with Victorian Variety Support Manager Rob Harris at the launch of Willaura