Federation wheat, an early-maturing and drought resistant wheat, is released. (1901)

The release of Federation wheat represented a major change in Australian farming at the turn of the century. Previously, farmers had only been able to produce enough wheat to supply Australia. Crops were often badly affected by diseases such as stem rust (which made the grain shrivel). Pioneering wheat breeder William James Farrer devoted the last 20 years of his life to improving Australian wheat. He built a small laboratory on his property in what is now the Australian Capital Territory, and each year bred hundreds of variations. The most famous of the drought and disease-resistant varieties that he developed was called Federation wheat – it was to be the main wheat in Australia for many years. It was also an early-maturing wheat, whereas most of the wheat previously planted in Australia had been late-maturing. By 1912 Australia was a wheat exporter. It is still one of the world’s major wheat producers.

This project has been supported by the National Council for the Centenary of Federation.1901-2001 Centenary of Federation

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