Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Rapeseed, Linseed, Plant breeding, Western Australia

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Rapeseed and linseed—the main oil seed crops grown in the south-west of Western Australia—have both been beset by problems which have limited farmers' interest in them.

Rapeseed was first grown commercially in 1970, when wheat quotas and low prices for other cereals forced farmers to seek alternative cash crops. The area sown to rapeseed increased rapidly, but disastrous outbreaks of the disease blackleg caused rapid decline, and little rapeseed is now sown.

Linseed has been grown in W.A. for more than 30 years. Linseed rust proved disastrous but was overcome by the introduction and breedbreeding of rust-resistant varieties. In recent times the industry has been beset with a run of poor seasons, wind-blast damage of seedlings and contamination of seed with weed seeds. This has led to a decline in sowings.

Prices for both crops have been attractive since 1973 and a revival in interest can be expected if some of their problems can be overcome.

The best long-term answer to these problems may be through breeding and this article outlines the Department of Agriculture breeding effort with the two crops.