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NSW DPI Research Agronomist Dr Natalie Moore is excited to announce the local development of a soybean leaf rust resistant variety. Image: Contributed

Soy exciting for NSW producers

Emma Pritchard

A new variety of soybean developed in the Clarence Valley will significantly boost productivity and profitability for growers across the state.

Bred as part of the ongoing Australian Natural Soybean Breeding Program, a collaboration between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), CSIRO and Grains Research and Development Corporation, the new variety called Gwydir is an early maturing plant that provides greater crop security and is well suited to a variety of climates.

In further encouraging news for growers, Gwydir is also the first variety in NSW which is resistant to soybean leaf rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi).

An airborne fungal disease spread by tiny spores, soybean leaf rust thrives in wet conditions and rapidly progresses towards the canopy of the plant where it destroys the green leaves and prevents the grain from filling the pods, resulting in substantially reduced yield and crop quality.

A recent analysis in 2019, based on an edible grain price of $700 per tonne with severe soybean leaf rust occurring every four seasons, estimated the resulting income benefit for soybean producers sowing and harvesting a rust resistant variety was worth around $2500 per hectare.

NSW DPI Research Agronomist Dr Natalie Moore, who was instrumental in the development of Gwydir, said as a variety with a leaf rust resistant trait, it provides growers with more crop security and has also proven to be up to 8 percent higher yielding compared to other common varieties of soybean including Soya 791 and Moonbi.

“This is very exciting news for soybean growers,” she said proudly.

“Grafton is the state leader of the Australian Natural Soybean Breeding Program, and we have a fantastic team of technical people including Nathan Ensbey, Ashley Moss and Sam Blanch who are very dedicated to the work we do.

“There is so much potential for this new variety and the early data is extremely positive.”

Dr Moore revealed Gwydir was first identified as soybean leaf rust resistant by former DPI employee Graeme Doust in an earlier trial to breed and select high protein varieties during a particularly bad season for the fungal disease.

The variety was also noted for its improved weather tolerance and narrow leaves which allow additional aeration and an increased volume of sunlight to reach the lower branches.

“Another benefit we have recently discovered within the last two seasons is Gwydir is also the best variety of soybean suitable for early sowing during the spring which is very beneficial for growers in areas which receive high rainfall during the summer months,” she said.

“It is also suitable for human consumption markets to meet the increasing demand for plant-based food.

“I think a lot of growers will make the switch to Gwydir.”  

Dr Moore confirmed commercial seeds will be available through Soy Australia next season.

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