IN A YEAR with many contenders for most lucrative crop lentils are making a solid charge.
Values are in excess of $1000 a tonne, primarily in light of a lack of product from the world's largest exporter of the legume, Canada, and an easing of tariffs from the world's largest importer, India.
It has farmers in the lentil belt through Victoria and South Australia excited about this year's harvest, with a kind season in regions such as the Wimmera meaning many crops are displaying outstanding yield potential.
Given the buzz around the crop at present it is no wonder lentils were one of the major talking points at last week's Southern Pulse Field Day near Nhill in Victoria's Wimmera.
Agriculture Victoria pulse breeders Jason Brand and Arun Shunmugam said there were a number of promising new developments in the lentil breeding pipeline.
In particular two cultivars yet to be commercialised are performing well in trials, with Dr Brand saying there was huge yield potential in the two lines.
Dr Shunmugam said other focuses of breeders included looking to incorporate more frost resistant genetic material along with further advances in herbicide resistant and tolerant varieties.
The crowd at the Nhill field day said Clearfield / imi-tolerant lines such as Hallmark and Hurricane were popular as they gave flexibility within the rotation and reduced the plant-back risk when planted following another Clearfield line.
Dr Brand said frost and waterlogging tolerance remained two key objectives.
He said there was a complex interaction which meant plants just metres apart could fare vastly differently.
"You can see even in the trials here that some plants look like they've incurred frost damage and just a couple of metres away with slightly different soil type and slightly higher up they are unaffected.
"Some form of tolerance to both these stresses would be a great win for the industry," Dr Brand said.
He said the breeding sector wanted feedback from growers about what herbicide tolerance traits were wanted.
"It is a complex one as we have to manage market expectations and maximum residue limits in with what is going to work well agronomically, but we're really keen to hear what growers would be interested in seeing in future varieties," he said.
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