CSIRO study finds value in opening wheat seeding window

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’s South
Australia Country Hour
, 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.

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