SAC trials should help plant breeders build in resistance to sterility in future wheat breeding programmes, said SAC cereals specialist Steve Hoad.


Reductions in seed numbers at flowering time, believed to have been caused by climatic stress, resulted in one variety being removed from the Recommended List, he explained.

“A reduction in grain numbers in the spikelets of wheat from the normal three or four to two or less has a dramatic effect on final yield,” he said.

SAC trials on behalf of three plant breeding companies are now looking for sources of variation for breeders to exploit.

“The breeders are anxious to screen out any weakness found in varieties and select for greater resistance to sterility.

“The variation we have found in trials suggests that it should be possible to select on this basis and breed varieties which are more resistant to climatic stress.”