GRDC Northern Region Panellist Loretta Serafin, Leader Northern Dryland Cropping Systems, NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Mixed cropping farmers looking to maximise productivity from winter crops can consider grazing some grain only varieties of wheat, barley and triticale without sacrificing final grain yield.
That’s been the take home message from recent trial work funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and undertaken by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) comparing the performance of dual purpose and grain only varieties in terms of dry matter production and grain yield.
Management is critical though with the research confirming that variety selection as well as timing, intensity and number of grazings plays an important role in maintaining grain yield.
In certain seasons there is an opportunity to consider grazing some grain only varieties, with no or minimal impact on final grain yield. However, selecting when the seasonal conditions will allow sufficient recovery following grazing will continue to be the greatest uncertainty.
The dual purpose experiment series showed that there is a need to select varieties on an individual basis for grazing and that this type of management does not suit all varieties.
Several grain only varieties showed the ability to produce comparable dry matter tonnage and still deliver reasonable grain yields.
Results from the 2013 season showed it was possible to graze Caparoi, Suntop, Commander, Gairdner, Shepherd, Yambla and Urambie, once without significantly impacting on grain yield.
The remaining varieties suffered significant yield loss. Commander has shown in both 2012 and 2013 season trials to be worthy of further consideration for grazing.
Commander has also shown the ability to deliver malting quality grain even after being grazed. From the 2012 results it appears the majority of current malting varieties tend to deliver below receival standard retention levels following grazing. Analysis of the 2013 grain quality results will help provide more conclusive data on this.
With large areas of NSW and Queensland remaining dry, winter crop varieties that allow flexibility within the farming system may be worth considering to enable farmers to respond to seasonal uncertainty while maximising returns.
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications