Triticale

There are approximately 750,000 tonnes of triticale produced annually in Australia, with 350,000 tonnes produced in NSW, 300,000 tonnes in Victoria and 90,000 tonnes in SA.

Grain producers on the south western slopes have expressed the importance to of dual-purpose triticale varieties, as they want to graze the crop through autumn and winter, and have a subsequent grain crop, thus increasing the gross margin per hectare and also providing an insurance against harvest failure. Grazing cereals produce two times the amount of dry matter compared to pastures during the autumn and winter, and also allow pastures to be rested over the winter thus allowing for better production in the spring. Long season triticales may also be suitable to the Wimmera areas of Victoria and SA for sowing in early to mid May.

There is a high demand for feed grain in these regions, especially for triticale from the dairy and pig industries. The reduced transport costs and the slightly higher price for triticale compared to other feed grains makes triticale an attractive proposition. Triticale is particularly suited to some areas due to its tolerance of acid soils and high exchangeable aluminium present in these soils, especially where the sub-soil is acid and cannot be easily corrected by liming.

The University program aims to improve the productivity of dual-purpose triticales through plant breeding. This involves improving the grain yield and dry matter production, producing winter triticales so there is a wider range of sowing dates, improving the grazing habit (having the growing point is closer to the ground), and incorporating new sources of rust resistance. Shorter triticales are also produced to reduce the amount of stubble after harvest, suiting conservation tillage farming practices, and also to improve grain yield.

Hybrid triticale is also under developed to increase yield by exploiting heterosis, the superiority of the F1 hybrid over the highest yielding inbred varieties.

The breeding program addresses grain quality aspects of triticale in relation to the animal industries, with the aim of improving animal productivity when fed triticale. This program concentrates on grain characteristics for ruminants (grain quality for pigs being covered by the Pork CRC).

This program provides benefits to the grains industry through the identification of dual-purpose triticales with improved productivity. The work is support by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Jeremy Roake at Narrabri Field Day