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.

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