Tapping into earlier wheat seeding opportunities
A CSIRO study of wheat sowing times in South Australia found varieties sown in mid to late April produced higher yields than their May-sown counterparts. It also found slower maturating APW variety Trojan was the best at turning early seeding opportunities into increased grain yield. Following similar research in other states, the organisation conducted an ‘early sowing project' last year at several trial sites across SA. In a recent interview with ABC Radio, CSIRO senior research scientist James Hunt said the results challenged the traditional sowing start date of Anzac Day. “What we found across most of the sites in the traditional grain producing regions is that our highest yields did tend to come from our mid to late April sowing time in 2014, and one cultivar particularly stood out, which was Trojan; a reasonably new variety,” he told ABC Radio. “I think that offers some real hope for South Australian growers who tend to grow a lot of Mace, which is really suited to May. “Trojan can really complement Mace in a cropping program, and let growers start planting at the end of April with Trojan and then switch to Mace. “So they've reduced their exposure to frost risk quite a lot, and based on our results should increase their whole farm yield considerably.” In SA's Mid North, Saddleworth grower David Parkinson said the district trend was for longer maturity wheat that could be sown earlier to maximise yield as well as spread frost risk on farm. “Mace is better suited to a mid-May planting but Trojan has the advantage of an earlier-sowing. You can seed Trojan in late April/early May which in turn lifts overall farm yields and increases profitability,” he said. “In saying that though, it complements Mace well.” Mr Parkinson farms with his father Bob and wife Lisa, is advised by his brother Andrew, an agronomist, and has been comparing Trojan, Mace and Cobra the past two seasons at “Tuela”. At harvest in December, the family's April 28-sown Trojan averaged 6.3 tonnes per hectare, Cobra in the same paddock sown May 3 went 5.3t/ha and Mace in an adjacent paddock, sown May 17, yielded 5t/ha. “I think Trojan definitely has a fit in our system, having delivered well above the other varieties on the farm in 2014.” It was an up and down year for the croppers, starting the season well on the back of strong rains in February and March, only to have waterlogging issues a few months later. “As soon as we finished seeding, it just rained and rained. “Usually at the end of July, this area has a full profile, but in the first half of 2014 we'd had so much rain the paddocks were showing waterlogging. “The paddocks had dried out enough by the middle of August to allow us to get back on them. “After that the rain pretty well dried up and the Trojan finished without much additional rain, so it drew the moisture down and delivered well.” Mr Parkinson direct drilled the three varieties with an air seeder bar fitted with 16mm knife points and press wheels on 24cm spacings, using slightly different rates. He drilled the Trojan at 80kg/ha, Cobra at 90kg/ha and Mace, which was sown into a previous wheat stubble, at 100kg/ ha. DAP was applied at a rate of 100kg/ha and urea was used in three applications totalling 270kg/ha.
Mace is better suited to a mid-May planting but Trojan has the advantage of an earlier-sowing.
David Parkinson from Saddleworth in South Australia says opening the planting window lifts overall farm yields and increases profitability.