"Madonna performed marvellously," Cootamundra grower Hugh Roberts said of his first year with the new triticale cultivar.
Mr Roberts said the crop he is planting to replace oats grazed seven sheep to the acre for a year and yielded 0.53 t/ha. "We sowed in early March. It didn't run up to head and provided excellent grazing all winter. Madonna is the best grazing variety we've ever used."
Madonna has been billed as a double act, giving high forage yields and the ability for excellent grain recovery. The cultivar is the first of a new group suited to earlier sowing than the older line of grain triticales.
The area sown to triticale is growing in the southern states, especially on acid soils. "We're getting four times more grain out of trits than oats," said Mr Roberts who believes there is an expanding market for triticale as dairy cow fodder.
n South Australia alone the area sown to triticale has doubled in recent years to 17,000 ha, as farmers recognise its potential to yield under adverse conditions, on land that is marginal for wheat, barley and oats.
Other advantages noted by Mr Roberts are Madonna's late ripening properties which meant "we escaped all the bad weather" and the ability to use herbicides to cut down on weeds which isn't possible in an oat crop.
A new triticale cultivar is reaching the seed increase stage in this program. Abacus has brown chaff and is two weeks later in maturity than Currency, Muir and Tahara. It will be recommended for high rainfall areas (600-1000 mm) and cooler districts (mean daily temperature from June to November of less than 23°C).
"The program is coming out with some good products," was Mr Roberts' verdict.