New AGT wheat variety Sunprime celebrates GrainGrowers’ history

By October 3, 2018October 5th, 2018Media Releases - October 2018

GrainGrowers Chairman John Eastburn and Board Director Andrew Carberry have taken part in the launch of AGT’s new Sunprime wheat variety at the Plant Breeding Institute Field Day in Narrabri as part of celebrations of GrainGrowers’ 60th Anniversary this year.

The launch of Sunprime was officiated by the Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton and AGT wheat breeder, Dr Meiqin Lu.

Chairman John Eastburn said that AGT had provided GrainGrowers with the honour of naming the new wheat variety, in recognition of GrainGrowers’ 60th Anniversary.

Mr Eastburn said that GrainGrowers’ founding organisation, the Premium Wheatgrowers Association (PWA), was set up by growers at North Star NSW and surrounding regions, who wanted to receive a premium for their quality high protein wheat, which was particularly valued by Australian bread bakers for its superior rising properties.

“PWA was incorporated in Narrabri in 1958 and eventually succeeded in getting the Australian Wheat Board to segregate wheat and pay a premium for high protein wheat – the biggest positive change in the industry in my lifetime as a grower,” said Mr Eastburn, who has farmed for more than 40 years at Baradine, NSW.

“PWA (which later became the Prime Wheat Association and then Grain Growers Limited – GrainGrowers)  worked on early wheat protein testing at its Narrabri laboratory. PWA also owned the early wheat-breeding and seed wholesaling company, Sunprime, which was folded into Graincorp, before being sold to AGT.

“By 1969 Prime Hard wheats and Northern FAQ grades had gained acceptance in international wheat markets and protein testing had become routine outside the laboratory, at grain receival stations.

“In keeping with the AGT northern breeding node naming convention the ‘Sun’ prefix has been maintained and this keeps a common link with some of the earliest prime hard wheat varieties.

“We are thrilled for our history to be reflected in the name of the new wheat – Sunprime.”

AGT wheat breeder, Meiqin Lu, congratulated GrainGrowers for reaching their 60 year anniversary and thanked John Eastburn on behalf of the industry for GrainGrowers’ founding organisation’s work in gaining recognition for premium high protein wheat.

She said AGT expected New South Wales and Queensland growers would be able to find a place in their farming system for the new wheat variety, Sunprime (tested as SUN803U) which was relatively fast maturing and provided farmers with the opportunity to plant later in the main season sowing window.

“Late planting circumstances aren’t always ideal and so having a variety that can consistently achieve high yields and maintain good grain quality when sown late is of great benefit,” Ms Lu said.

“We view Sunprime as a great higher yielding alternative to the popular variety, Spitfire. Long term NVT yield data supports this claim showing that the yield of Sunprime is 6-10 percent higher than Spitfire across NSW and Queensland regions, while also displaying broad adaption across a range of conditions.

“The early maturity of Sunprime means it is very well suited to short season environments or where sowing is delayed, and where increased risk of heat stress and below average spring rainfall may limit the yield potential of slower maturing varieties.

“We believe that growers will have the most success out of Sunprime when it is planted from mid-May onwards.”

Douglas Lush, AGT Marketing and Seed Production Manager for the northern region, said AGT Affiliates had been tasked with producing commercial quantities of Sunprime this season.

“Unfortunately they are all suffering the same drought conditions that our farmers are this season, but will generate significant quantities for farmers to be able to sow in 2019,” he said.

“Sunprime is able to be traded between growers upon the completion of a Licence Agreement as part of AGT’s Seed SharingTM initiative.”

As part of the promotional launch for Sunprime, AGT have made small quantities available for raffles at various events. One tonne of Sunprime was raffled at the PBI Field day and another tonne will be raffled at the GrainGrowers’ 60th Anniversary black tie dinner at Dubbo on 17 October.

GrainGrowers, a national representative organisation for Australian grain farmers, provides a national and international voice on key issues for more than 17,000 farmer members located across the Australian grain belt.

Australian Grain Technologies Pty Ltd (AGT) is the largest wheat breeding company in Australia.

For more information about Sunprime, click here.

For more information about GrainGrowers’ 60th Anniversary, click here.