A wet spring
potentially high-yielding crops across much of the Wimmera the sight of severe lodging is disheartening.
Usually lodging occurs later in the season when grain filling begins and the plant stem is unable to support the mature head.
However, this year lodging has occurred earlier as a result of the weather conditions.
With the crop’s stem under stress from wind, rain and hail, it cannot support the upper canopy and, therefore, ‘falls over’.
Depending on the severity of lodging, crops can recover, although in readiness for harvest farmers across the Wimmera are already thinking about the use of crop lifters which can help feed the plant head into the harvester when crops are lodged.
This month at Birchip Cropping Group we have been assessing lodging on the majority of our trials and have scored each plot accordingly.
This information will be used to gauge whether trial treatments have affected a plant’s ability to remain upright and to provide background information about the plot if a low, or unexpected, harvest grain yield is obtained.
The good growing season, together with the record-September rain, has presented other challenges for the operations team.
An increased threat of disease, another consequence of sustained wet conditions, has resulted in a very busy spraying schedule.
Gladly, spraying is now finally drawing to a close with the last of the fungicides and insecticide sprays being applied to trials.
Meanwhile, in an effort to minimise bird damage to canola trials, as experienced last season, scare guns have been erected at trial sites.
Birds can quickly decimate a canola crop so it is important to begin control efforts so that yield losses are minimal.
Assessments also continue to be carried as the season progresses.
As part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation stubble project, which BCG is leading in Victoria and Tasmania, peak biomass samples have been collected from Corack, Scout, Trojan, Scepter and Cutlass wheat varieties.
The head and leaves from 10 stems will be separated and dried, and the percentage that each plant component contributes to the overall plant matter will be calculated.
We hope to use this information to better understand how the type of stubble produced by a wheat plant is influenced by the variety grown.
The New South Wales DPI canola phenology trial at Longerenong is beginning to senesce quickly over the space of a few warm days.
BCG is currently performing maturity cuts on each plot in each time of sowing treatment, again seeking to understand varietal differences.
While doing these maturity biomass cuts, crops will also be assessed for blackleg infection and sclerotinia which are problematic issues for many canola growers in the Wimmera.