About 300 new lines of lupins are currently being planted in the Department of Agriculture and Food’s glasshouse, all under the watchful eye of senior technical officer Cliff Staples.
Mr Staples, who was recently presented with a Length of Service award, has seen 27 new varieties developed during his 40 year career with the department.
It takes more than three months to prepare the trials, which total around 30,000 plots.
Field trials will be sown at Wongan Hills, Eradu, Merredin and Manjimup, where plants are grown over summer under irrigation – shaving a year off the breeding process.
It takes several years of further field trials and laboratory testing before large scale trials and bulking up occurs on research stations and farmers’ properties.
Mr Staples said it was very satisfying seeing new varieties come to fruition.
“It takes 10 or 12 years from the time you do a cross in the glasshouse, using conventional plant breeding, to the time by which you have a new variety,” he said.
Mr Staples started his career in Wongan Hills in 1971, under well-known lupin breeder John Gladstones, before moving to South Perth two years later.
“John was very thorough and fastidious, I learnt a lot from him,” he said.
“Lupin breeding has really changed over the past 40 years. Now there’s a lot more advanced machinery, technology and number crunching.”
Mr Staples said lupins have proved to be an important component of WA farming systems, improving soil health and providing stockfeed.
“It really opened up a lot of country on those sandy soils along the coast and in the northern agricultural region,” he said. “They’re a valuable part of the overall crop rotation.”
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937