Durum is becoming a top crop in northwestern NSW and southern Queensland, and more recently in South Australia.
Yields are equal to those of bread wheats in NSW, but still lag behind in South Australia, where zinc deficiency and boron toxicity are problems.
For the best crop, consider the following rules of thumb from NSW Agriculture durum breeder Ray Hare.
Choose ground that consistently produces high protein grain (13 per cent or above) - soil tests might show a need for nitrogenous fertiliser. Durum is susceptible to crown rot, so avoid new ground out of native pasture.
Prepare your ground as for bread wheat. Scarify and/or spray to eliminate bread wheat plants.
Use sound seed, true to type, free of weed, cracked grain and bread wheat.
Sow late May to early June - frost may damage earlier sowings, but sowings up to late July may be OK.
Don't sow too deep - Kamilaroi, Yallaroi and Wollaroi are semi-dwarf and their stem shoot cannot penetrate more than 8 cm; 3-6 cm in a well-prepared seedbed is good, with a sowing rate around 45 kg/ha. You may need to adjust equipment to handle the larger grain.
Control weeds - essential, but above-recommended application of some chemicals can damage your crop. Consult your agronomist. If possible, choose chemicals with broader safety margins.
Harvest with care - the hard grain can fracture. You may need concave adjustments on your equipment because Kamilaroi, Yallaroi and Wollaroi are marginally more difficult to thresh than Hartog and Sunco; strip as soon as the grain reaches dead ripe maturity to maximise grain appearance.
Prearrange your delivery - the need to segregate durum may oblige you to store on-farm if Grain Corp receival points or buyer facilities are not available.
Subprogram 1.6.1 Contact: Dr Ray Hare 067 631 100