Australian quinoa eyes the big league

Australian quinoa eyes the big league

A new variety of quinoa has been developed specifically for Australian growing conditions and it is hoped it will be the key to transition the superfood from a niche cottage crop to wider adoption in broadacre farming environments.

The Kruso White variant is the result of a joint national quinoa research project that was undertaken from 2015 to 2019 by AgriFutures Australia and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Principal Research scientist Dr Harmohinder Dhammu assesses quinoa crops at a trial site at Geraldton in Western Australia. (Photo: WA DPIRD)

The project focused on investigating where and how quinoa can be grown across Australia.

It was also successful in developing the new Kruso White variety which is now ready for bulk up and commercialisation.

Kruso White was launched in Kununurra in northern WA on September 8 in a ceremony that was attended by WA’s Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan.

AgriFutures Australia General Manager Business Development Michael Beer said the new public quinoa variety offers opportunity for Australian producers.

“The production of quinoa globally climbed from 23,000 tonnes in 1990 to almost 200,000 tonnes in 2019. Considering this huge increase in demand, the national quinoa project recognised the potential for quinoa as a high value cash and break crop in Australian cropping systems.

“AgriFutures Australia is delighted that our investment into the industry has contributed to providing growers with access to high quality quinoa seed suitable for Australian conditions that can be incorporated into local farming systems.”

AgriFutures Australia General Manager Business Development Michael Beer
Untapped potential: This map supplied by AgriFutures Australia shows where quinoa is currently being grown and where it could be

Promising results

Kruso White has been found to perform well under both rain-fed and irrigated conditions. It has also proven suitable for winter and spring-autumn sowing and been found to have wide adaptability, good yield and high seed quality.

Grains from two varieties of quinoa photo: AgriFutures Australia

Dr Harmohinder Dhammu, research scientist at WA’s DPIRD and principal investigator of the quinoa project, said the average yield of Kruso White across 15 good trials at a national level was 1.5t/ha, with a yield range of 0.5-3.1t/ha.

Gross margins of Kruso White production were found to be double that of wheat and canola under rainfed conditions at Geraldton in Western Australia, assuming quinoa yield of just 1t/ha.

Fast facts

  • The AgriFutures Australia funded project tested current quinoa varieties, advanced breeding lines and germplasm lines at sixteen locations across Australia (throughout WA, NT, QLD, SA and NSW) with the results having implications for farmers, processors, marketers and consumers;
  • Optimal quinoa sowing windows were established for each of the different field trial regions over the duration of the project;
  • The Kruso White variety was developed and adapted through collaboration with growers and industry to suit Australian growing conditions;
  • Gross margins of Kruso White quinoa were found to be double that of wheat and canola under rain-fed conditions in Geraldton, WA.

To access the new locally bred Kruso White, expressions of interest must be made through the DPIRD in Western Australia.

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