Seed for high quality chickpea varieties secured for NSW

John Sykes
John Sykes announces the new commercialisation arrangement at a chickpea field day held in October at ‘Minilya’, North Star.

Long-term production of a reliable source of high quality chickpea seed is assured for NSW growers following a decision to appoint AWB Seeds as commercialisation partner for the national chickpea breeding program.

Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) this month announced the appointment of AWB Seeds as commercial seed production partner until at least June 2011.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research leader for pulse genetics and improvement, John Sykes, who is a member of the PBA Advisory Board, said the decision will ensure that new varieties are released on merit.

"A Release Advisory Group representing breeders and the industry has been set up to evaluate, recommend, and report on the performance of chickpea varieties for future release and commercialisation.

"Only chickpea varieties that genuinely offer benefit to industry will be progressed and recommended for release to growers."

Mr Sykes said the arrangement will focus breeding on developing the best possible varieties whilst ensuring AWB Seeds provides input into market evaluation of new varieties.

"Ensuring disease-resistant varieties are available is essential for chickpeas to be supported by growers", he said.

"The new arrangement also allows for earlier increase in seed stocks of some varieties that show promise in early stage trials to accelerate delivery to growers."

Mr Sykes said "even though some varieties may not make it to release, it is necessary to start early building up seed stock as pulses have large seeds and require an extensive build-up of seed over years."

The license is for all components of the desi chickpea pipeline, including two to three PBA chickpea desi varieties identified for commercial release in 2008 and any other PBA desi chickpea varieties identified for commercial release up until June 2011.

Mr Sykes said NSW DPI aims to have 25 percent of the NSW cropping area sown to pulses and oilseeds by 2020.

Chickpea is the major winter pulse crop grown in rotation with cereals in northern NSW, and is regarded as an essential element of sustainable farming systems. NSW DPI leads the national PBA chickpea program from Tamworth.

PBA is an unincorporated joint venture between the GRDC, Pulse Australia, the University of Adelaide, SA Research and Development Institute, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, NSWDPI, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (QDPI&F) and the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA).