QUESTION: WHY would you pay good money for a new Australian Premium White variety that offers only a small improvement in yield over the varieties it may replace and is subject to a $1 per tonne crop improvement royalty? Western Australian growers may be asking themselves this following the release of Wyalkatchem by the WA Department of Agriculture.
Answer:f It's the 'systems' advantages offered by Wyalkatchem that makes the difference. New rust resistance will help 'rust-proof' the industry, the variety's tolerance of a wide range of soil conditions will help on variable paddocks, and Wyalkatchem 's short straw could be a big advantage come harvest and when seeding into stubble.
Corrigin farmer Lawry Pitman says Wyalkatchem will replace Westoniam on hi s 'Valema Farms' property.
" Westonia has been good to us - high yield and no disease problems - but intensive trial work by Agritech on a local property has Wyalkatchem a long way in front of Westonia on net returns from both ea rl y and late sowin g. Our seed production crop was sown at 35 kg/ha and yielded 3 tonnes - more than our Westonia sown at 65 kg/ha."
The Agritech results confirm those of thc Department of Agriculture where, up to 2000, the yield of Wyalkatchem has been similar or slightly greater than Westonia . Preliminary Department of Agriculture figures for 200 I confirm this assessment.
Drawing the short straw
Wyalkatchem short straw may assist growers at both harvest and seeding. Lower throughput of straw and higher harvesting speeds will reduce harvesting cost and the short straw wi ll suit stubble retention systems where long- strawed varieties may cause a problem. Mr Pitman's Valema Farms was one of the first no-till properties in the Corrigin district and is being developed as a showcase for sustainable farming practices.
"With our homemade airseeder built on a Shearer scari fier, we have had problems with straw blockages with Westonia . This year we had to bale Westonia straw for sa le, but with Wyalkatchem we could have left the straw chopper on the header and sp read it with no worries for sowing next year," Mr Pitman said.
Rust and other disease resistance
Wyalkatchem combines mueh improved resistance to leaf rust with res istance to the stem rust strains to which Westonia is now suscept ible. Add to this an intermediate res istance to stripe rust and Wyalkatchem'" is an important step toward the levels of protection the WA industry needs. ( Wyalkatchem relative levels steam and stripe rust resistance, whilst suitable/or WA . would preclude production in eastern states - Ed.)
As well as its short stature and rust resistance, Wyalkatchem combines good tolerance to high soil concentrations of aluminium and to boron (reasons for its broad adaptation), tolerance to common herbicides (except for a possible sensitivity to high rates of dicamba) and high grain-protein accumulation. Black point tolerance is slightly better than Westonia or Carnamah , but is still a concern, and Wyalkatchem has been rated as susceptible or very susceptible to pre-harvest spro uting in nat ional testing. However, field experience so far indicates that its to le rance to sprouting is superior to the very susceptible Cranbrook , Brookton and Westonia .
South coast experience Christopher Reichstein farms on high pH, high boron so ils at Wittenoom Hills. 60 km north-east of Esperance on WA's south coast. His seed crop sown at 35 kg/ha averaged 3.7 t/ha over 33 ha. "The thing that really impressed us - apart from the yield - was the vigorous tillering and short straw of Wyalkatchem " Mr Reichstein said. "Down here, harvesting is always critical due to wet weather and with Wyalkatchem we can harvest faster- which in some years could mean the difference between delivering good quality grain and ' feed' ,"
Mr Reichstein also had a tip for growers with non-wetting sandplain soils where germination is often patchy in dry years: " It 's only an observation, of course, but the vigorous tillering of Wyalkatchem may compensate for the lower established plant populations."
Up to one-third of Mr Reichstein 's comme rcial wheat program will be sown to Wyalkatchem . " People lost big money on Carnamah and Westonia due to pre- harvest sprouting this year (2001 season). We were okay with Wyalkalchem , but we would not go above one-third of the program due to the sprouting risk." (Mr Reichstein 's Wyalkatchcm had a falling number of 260 compared to over 300 for his Camm and H45 .)
" In our system we will be sowing Wyalkatchem at the middle or end of our seeding program and harvesting it first," Mr Reichstein said.
Wyalkatchem is protected by PBR and commerciali sation is through PlantTech Pty Ltd (previously known as SGB Australi a). A crop improvement royalty of $1 .00 per tonne ($ 1.25 including collection fee) applies to all grain of Wyalkatchem produced and sold by growers.
Program 1 Contact: Mr Lawry Pitman 08 9065 7074 email firstname.lastname@example.org Mr Christopher Reichstein 08 9076 7049
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