China developes yield -doubling wheat
breed that could at least double China's present per-hectare yield,
according to the China Daily.
The rice - Lunxuan 987 - was developed by a research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences headed by its president Zhai Huqu.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Zhai and the team's lead scientist Liu Binghua said they were releasing the achievements for the first time since obtaining the data last autumn.
The scientists are claiming that the wheat can yield up to 10.7 tons per-hectare, nearly 6.5 tons more than China's average per unit yield of wheat in 2004.
"Experimental findings have shown that it's really a super wheat breed and is set to nearly triple the current per unit yield," Zhai told the newspaper.
His team apparently submitted a proposal to the central government, suggesting the new breed be planted in nearly one fourth of China's wheat fields by 2008, and, according to Liu, the central government has agreed to launch a national programme.
The program is said to be worth 300 million yuan (US$36 million) and will focus on expanding pilot breeding and planting in China, where wheat accounts for 25 per cent of total grain consumption.
The China Daily suggested that some researchers may be cynical about their findings, but Liu told the paper that the rice performed well in various regions.
The per unit yield of 10.7 tons in Jiangsu was the highest, followed by 9.1 tons per hectare in test fields in the Changping District of Beijing and almost 10 tons in Xinxiang of Central China's Henan Province.
Liu said his confidence came from a set of practical and quantitative cyclic wheat breeding methods and techniques which can greatly improve wheat properties such as resistance to creeping and disease, high yield and quality.
Lunxuan 987 has a stalk height of 85 centimetres, features a resistance to lodging, powdery mildew and stripe rust and is able to shed its yellow leaves when ripening.
Liu apparently told the China Daily that the only real problem with the wheat was the quality of flour it produced, but he added that it could be used as a grain ration or an industrial resource.