Crop Biotech Update

Frost Nurseries Identify Tolerant Grain Varieties

February 24, 2012

Development of wheat and barley tolerant to frost is the best solution to minimize losses due to frost. The Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia has identified barley germplasm with frost tolerance which is now included in the barley breeding programs. Similarly, wheat lines with frost tolerance are under evaluation. Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) research officer Ben Biddulph says that frost tolerance development in crops can now be conducted with greater accuracy and repeatability in their laboratory.

The researchers observed that reduction in the number of grains in the head start to occur in wheat and barley when temperatures are around 0 and -2°C respectively with no visible signs of frost damage. Under severe frost (<-2° for wheat and <-6°C for barley) all varieties are equally susceptible with substantial reduction in the number of grains in the head. "Future work will continue refining screening methods, searching for sources of tolerance, work towards developing frost sensitivity ratings of new varieties and validate the impact of frost induced sterility from mild frosts on yield in wheat and barley," Dr. Biddulph said.

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