Sharing and demonstrating our work at ground level

September and October traditionally are producers’ day months, signifying opportunities for us to engage with producers and industry stakeholders who simultaneously are our benefactors and the ultimate beneficiaries of our work. This year was no exception.

On 21 September, Kelly Breeds confronted some windy Overberg weather to share with grain producers how we are involved with the SABBI barley breeding programme. Daniel de Klerk, barley breeder at SABBI, kindly invited us to join their talk at the 2023 Overberg Agri Roodebloem Producers’ Day. Kelly discussed the advantages of incorporating molecular genetics into a breeding programme, and how the CenGen involvement assists with issues such as purity testing of breeding- and imported material as well as molecular testing for gene introgression (marker-assisted selection).

She also elaborated on our SAWCIT-funded project (made possible through the voluntary research levy paid by producers) in which we are developing an in-field testing method to detect certain barley pathogens, and asked producers to submit leaves that they suspect are infected to help us to validate the method.

Kelly meeting up with the ABInBev interns who visited us the week prior to the producers’ day

On October 25th, Kelly and Bennet Leriba attended the Hartswater Growers’ Day aimed at Northern Cape irrigation barley producers. Here, they showcased our DIPLOMICS-funded Seed-based Genotyping project, wherein we are developing a seed cutter tool and methodology to streamline seed molecular testing. The seed cutter splits seeds into embryo- and non-embryo containing halves. The non-embryo half is used for destructive molecular analysis, and the embryo-containing half of only individuals having the desired genotype is then planted. The introduction of this tool is expected to lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse costs and space requirements.

We want to thank Daniel de Klerk and the SABBI team for inviting us to these important networking events that allow us to share our projects and activities with industry.