Cullen australasicum – overcoming a limitation towards its commercial success

Future Farm Industries CRC Ltd

  • Project code: PRJ-004777

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Sunday, May 30, 2010

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • National Priority: NEPI-RD&E to generate benefit across several plant industries


Cullen australasicum (Cullen) is a drought tolerant native perennial legume currently being developed by the Future Farm Industries CRC. This research has identified two aspects of Cullen that could play an important role as a new tool in adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Cullen is drought adapted and is a viable option for low rainfall marginal arable environments and it has plant compounds that mitigate methane emissions. However for any new forage species to be a commercial success there must be a capacity to cost effectively harvest seed leading to seed becoming available at a competitive price. Research within the RIRDC project “Developing harvest technologies for C. australasicum” has identified best practice technologies to harvest seed. However, whilst the potential for commercial seed production is feasible, this project identified seed yield and seed losses from shedding (dehiscence) as a major constraint to the supply of competitively priced seed. The primary objective of this proposal is to overcome this limitation and support the development of a viable seed industry.

This objective will be achieved through the examination of the variation of plant morphological traits to identify elite genotypes with desirable characteristics. Major outcomes achieved within this proposal will be the identification of parental germplasm with improved seed production and harvest characteristics. Identified parental germplasm would ultimately contribute towards increased seed production and harvesting efficiencies, thus allowing the full commercial potential of Cullen to be realised. This proposal will supplement and fast track current Cullen cultivar development activities within the FFI CRC.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

Future Farm Industries CRC Ltd

Objective Summary

Cullen has demonstrated to be commercially harvestable, productive, and persistent under light but consistent grazing, provide forage outside the winter growing season, to be well adapted to drought, deep rooted and with the capacity to self regenerate in response to suitable seasonal conditions and low plant competition. A major constraint with Cullen is that large seed losses can occur through pod dehiscence and uneven ripening of the seed. As the price of seed will be a major barrier to its adoption, improved seed production technologies and harvestability traits must be developed to ensure a viable seed industry can exist.

Objectives: To examine the variation of plant morphological traits within elite populations selected from a diverse collection of Cullen australasicum germplasm in order to identify superior genotypes with desirable ‘domestication’ characteristics that could contribute towards increased seed production and support the commercial success of the species.

Outcome1. A detailed understanding of the desirable plant characteristics that will deliver ‘domestication” and their variability in the source germplasm that will correspond to improved seed production and harvestability.
Outcome2. Identification of elite parental plants with improved seed production and plants characteristics required to overcome limitations to the species commercial success.