Tap­ping into ear­lier wheat seed­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

Australian Farmers & Dealers Journal - - NEWS -

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.

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