A QUEENSLAND maize breeding program is producing adapted, high yielding lines to enhance export opportunities into non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Asian maize markets.
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) Agri-Science senior plant breeder Dr Solomon Fekybelu leads a maize pre-breeding program at Hermitage Research Station at Warwick in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Dr Fekybelu said Australia supplied the bulk of the non-GMO maize to the Asian processing industry.
DEEDI plant breeders are working closely with private seed companies to identify research and development objectives and breed better types of maize.
The commercial goal is to produce more reliable maize hybrids that will encourage farmers to plant maize and boost the volume of sales into an assured export market.
“Our trials and germplasm research is targeted at breeding better maize for tropical (high rainfall) and subtropical (drier) production environments,” Dr Fekybelu said.
“While the focus for maize in the drier environments is on tolerance to drought and heat stress, it is imperative that selected breeding lines also have the genetic potential to respond well to a good season.”
For the 2010-11 summer season, breeding lines were evaluated at a number of trial sites in targeted environments across the Darling Downs and South Burnett regions.
Dr Fekybelu said more than 350 new test cross hybrids were evaluated at Kingaroy to identify inbred lines for use in the development of parental lines for commercial hybrid production.
Most of the test entries recorded yields of 7 tonnes per hectare or higher and underwent stringent evaluation for key agronomic characteristics.
“We ranked the entries on flowering synchronisation, husk tip cover, root and stalk lodging and resistance to a range of diseases,” Dr Fekybelu said.
“Grain quality was visually assessed and rated for suitability for feed grain or processing.”
Dr Fekybelu said the future program would include further testing of the best selections at more trial sites.
Some of these selections will also be advanced to a commercially acceptable level of genetic purity for use as possible parent lines by private seed companies.