NSW takes lead on chickpeas

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is to take a lead role in breeding chickpeas nationally and faba beans in the northern cropping zone in the new joint venture, Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA).

PBA, launched recently in Adelaide, aims to deliver superior pulse varieties for the Australian grains industry.

Pulses have an important role in grain production as ‘break’ crops which help reduce disease, weeds and Nitrogen inputs as well as offering farmers the opportunity to diversify their markets.

Leading the PBA’s chickpea breeding effort will be a team from DPI Tamworth headed by respected breeder, Ted Knights. It includes Kevin Moore, plant pathologist, Eric Armstring, who is responsible for southern NSW evaluation and Jenny Wood, pulse chemist.

DPI Research Leader for Pulse Genetics and Improvement, John Sykes, says the first PBA chickpea variety for the northern region is to be commercialised this year.

“Agreement has been reached on key traits to be developed in each region and already genetic progress is evident”, he said.

Faba bean breeding for PBA will have a northern and southern node, in recognition of differing production requirements and environments.

The northern node research leader is DPI’s Narrabri-based faba bean breeder Ian Rose, whose team includes Joop van Leur, plant pathologist and Peter Matthews, who will undertake southern NSW evaluation. 

Mr Sykes said a northern node is needed because faba beans grown in subtropical environments need very different plant characteristics (such as time of flowering) and disease resistances to those grown in southern regions where most rain falls in winter.

Facilities at DPI centres at Tamworth and Narrabri have been upgraded to support the new roles of the PBA teams.

PBA is an unincorporated joint venture between the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Pulse Australia, University of Adelaide, SA Research and Development Institute, the Department of Primary Industries in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and the WA Department of Agriculture and Food.