Thursday 14th Nov, 2019

Queensland science supports sorghum sector

Queensland’s leading scientists have developed new varieties of sorghum to boost the state’s local industry and exports.
Sorghum breeding lines in the Hermitage glasshouse.

Queensland’s leading scientists have developed new varieties of sorghum to boost the state’s local industry and exports.

More than 120 genetic lines of sorghum have been licensed to private breeders over the last three years, which have then been turned into pest-resistant, high-yielding hybrids.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) scientists have worked closely with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to grow the new varieties.

The gross value of sorghum production is estimated to reach $552 million in 2018/19, well above the five-year average due to large increases in crop plantings and stronger prices.

Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner said his department had been leading the way in developing new varieties of sorghum for over 60 years.

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“We are investing in innovation so that our farmers can take on the world,” he said.

“Queensland growers now produce some of the highest yielding rain-fed sorghum crops anywhere in the world.”

Turner said the scientists’ work was also working closely with industry.

“Because of the work done on midge resistance by my department and QAAFI, producers have substantially reduced use of insecticides and have greater flexibility in planting dates,” he said.

“Our partnership model with private breeders is respected around the world as an effective way to link leading crop research to better farmer outcomes.”

Turner said the Queensland sorghum industry was well placed to take advantage of the surging global demand for the crop.

“In Australia, sorghum is primarily used for stock feed but the cereal is a staple food for millions of people around the world in countries like India and Ethiopia,” he said.

“There’s also room to grow in Asia, where sorghum is used to make the Chinese liquor baijiu, the most widely consumed alcoholic spirit in the world.

“That is why the Queensland Government is continuing to co-invest with GRDC and QAAFI in DAF’s sorghum breeding program, so that our farmers can continue to be the best and help feed the world.”