International Hunt on For “Climate Change-Resilient” Grains

Researchers are scouring the planet for drought and heat-resistant crops as many Australian grain farmers face another failed winter season.

Key points:

  • The Grains Research and Development Corporation is looking internationally for grains that can thrive in difficult conditions
  • For many drought-affected farmers across the country this winter marks the latest in multiple seasons with no successful harvest
  • Researchers are looking to African and Middle-Eastern nations for climate change-resistant crops

The forecast for the 2019 winter grain harvest is down considerably, with important growing regions like southern Queensland missing their third crop in a row.

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) northern panel chair John Minogue said ongoing dry weather had already created a shortage of domestic grain.

“The southern part of Australia, South Australia and Victoria seem to be OK … but then there’s a big gap from around Wagga, all the way through to about Emerald so the entire east coast of Australia needs a good solid two inches,” Mr Minogue said.

“Western Australia had a very late start, but it’s got quite wet for them over there, so they’re off and running quite well.

“We’re down a long way, and have been having to import from Western Australia to supply the domestic users in the east coast of Australia.”

Scientists are forecasting the dry weather will continue because of climate change — an issue that was keeping many farmers awake at night, according to Mr Minogue.

“They’re very good at adapting to that variability but it’s really trying their skills at the moment because there’s going to be a lot of extremes,” Mr Minogue said.

“I think the reality is that Australian farmers are going to have to squeeze every last kilogram out of every millimetre of rainfall that we get going forward.”

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Source – ABC Rural Australia