Vincent Luisetti has recently returned from a trip to visit Sejet, our Danish cereal breeding partner.
Plant and Food Research, Luisetti Seeds and Sejet have been working together for over 25 years in what has been a very successful partnership.
Sejet has been breeding cereal varieties since 1947 and has been responsible for breeding malting barley varieties for the production of one of Denmark’s most famous exports, Carlsberg beer.
Sejet and Plant & Food Research provide off-season trials for each other and Plant & Food Research cereal breeder, Andy Hay, visits Sejet each year to make selections for the PFR/Luisetti Seeds New Zealand breeding programme, thereby reducing the time it takes to commercialise a new cereal variety.
Sejet employs “Double Haploid” breeding technology as well as genetic markers to further reduce the time it takes to commercialise new varieties that offer improved yield, increased disease and pest resistance as well as fitting the requirements of feed manufacturers, maltsters and flour mills.
Double Haploid breeding involves mixing the pollen (male) with the ovule (female) in a special growth promoting agar and then putting the crosses in a temperature, humidity and light controlled chamber to produce cereal plants, which are then planted out in a controlled atmosphere green house and grown to maturity.
A small area of leaf is then cut from the greenhouse plants to analyse the DNA of each plant for a selection of genes that are known to produce desirable traits. The seed from the plants that possess the most desirable traits are then tested in the field and reselected over 5 or 6 seasons (in Denmark and New Zealand) to determine which cultivar might be suitable for what market. Early seed production commences after about the fourth year for the most promising cultivars.
Vincent timed his visit to coincide with Sejet’s annual Field Day attended by about 1000 Danish and German farmers.