Murdoch-bred pasture legume to be 'next big thing'

September 2, 2010

A new French serradella cultivar ‘Eliza’ was officially released today – and its developers say it’s likely to become the biggest selling pasture legume cultivar in WA.

The legume was officially released and named at today’s Mingenew-Irwin Group Field Day.

The early maturing genotype of French serradella was developed by Murdoch University’s PhD candidate Brad Nutt, also employed by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), under the supervision of Professor Jen McComb and Professor John Howieson as part of his PhD research.

French serradella is not new to agriculture. It dates back at least 300 years and has become a major legume crop in wheatbelt WA since the release of the cultivar ‘Cadiz’ in 1996.

Cadiz is the parent of the new cultivar Eliza, and was also developed by Dr Nutt – a breakthrough at the time in that it was earlier flowering than the European cultivars of serradella.

Professor Howieson said: “The overwhelming need for early flowering in French serradella to suit the northern and eastern wheatbelt was a powerful driver for the commercial release of this new cultivar.

"Its ability to flower earlier will provide more reliable seed production and will be less dependant on favourable spring conditions."

Growers were able to view the difference for themselves at the MIG Field Day, the official release including a demonstration plot of the new cultivar and Cadiz placed side by side to emphasise the difference in maturity.

Dr Nutt has donated his royalty entitlements from the sale of the cultivar’s seed to the Crops and Plants Research Institute (CaPRI) at Murdoch University for the establishment of a postgraduate scholarship in legume science and nitrogen fixation.

The cultivar is jointly owned by DAFWA and Murdoch University with Ballard Seeds awarded the license to commercially market the cultivar on behalf of the owners.

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