A new breeding programme will result in new varieties of wheat being made available for New Zealand growers, delivering high yields and increased resistance to pests and diseases.

Plant & Food Research and Luisetti Seeds have signed an agreement to renew and expand their cereal grain breeding programme, the largest of its kind in New Zealand.


Richard Luisetti, Edward Luisetti, Ross Hanson (Plant & Food Research) and Vincent Luisetti in a seed paddock of CRWT168 wheat, an exciting new New Zealand bred feed wheat cultivar to be released from the Luisetti Seeds/Plant & Food Research breeding programme this year.

The programme will focus on the breeding of new high yield wheat cultivars with good milling quality and dough properties, as well as new wheat and barley cultivars for animal feed.

The joint cereal breeding programme was initiated in the 1990s, and has resulted in the release of several successful cultivars, including Regency wheat, developed specifically to meet the demands of the milling industry at the time; Conquest, the leading Premium 1 milling wheat cultivar in New Zealand; Saracen, a medium quality milling wheat with high yields; as well as feed wheat cultivars Wakanui and Excede and feed barleys Bumpa and Booma, which have been top of national trials for a variety of environments, particularly under conditions with lower fungicide applications.

A new high yielding feed wheat CRWT168 and a new biscuit variety “Empress” are due to be released this year. Two potential Conquest replacements with improved rust resistance are also in an advanced stage of development.

Luisetti Seeds director Vincent Luisetti says new varieties are key to the success of both the grain trade and growers in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a unique environment for growing cereal grains, and having cultivars that are bred here allows us to directly address the specific requirements of both growers and end users. This, combined with the multidisciplinary team involved in the breeding programme, is what marks the difference between cultivars developed in New Zealand and those that have been directly imported.”

Peter Landon-Lane, CEO of Plant & Food Research, says this new agreement will create benefits across the arable food supply chain.