Leader of the Southern Pulse Agronomy project Dr Jason Brand says growers need to get the fundamentals for their faba beans right up front, such as row spacing, plant density and pest and disease management, to avoid any issues in the canopy later in the season.
Growers wanting to avoid issues with canopy management in faba bean crops later this season should first get fundamental measures such as row spacing, plant density, inoculation and pest and disease management right earlier in the season.
That is the message from the leader of the Southern Pulse Agronomy (SPA) project Dr Jason Brand, senior research agronomist – pulses, at the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
In previous seasons, there have been reports from higher rainfall zone growers in southern Australia of beans producing excessive biomass but not the pods to match or those that do ‘pod up’ well do so higher in the canopy, leading to lodging.
Dr Brand has been looking at novel ways of reducing the problem in the HRZ, including chemical and mechanical treatments, but says the key message for growers was still to focus on getting the important things right early in the growing season.
“The key message is to get it right up front and be prepared to manage disease,” Dr Brand said. “Good canopy management is about getting sowing right. Don’t be afraid of wider row spacings – for beans it’s pretty flexible. From some of our research we have found you can go anywhere from 18-25 centimetres right out to 38cm and wider.”
Dr Brand says wider row spacings potentially reduce disease pressure and allow more penetration of chemicals, but don’t necessarily get as good competition with weeds as narrower row spacings. He says it is a hard trade-off as many growers will have trouble because of seeders set-up on narrower spacings to avoid issues with hoses blocking at seeding.
Dr Brand stressed the importance of protecting crops against insects, other pests and diseases.
The SPA work in the HRZ has involved a number of different treatments including the use of herbicides and plant growth regulators to prevent rapid growth while some novel mechanical methods, including a slasher at eight-node stage and a hedge trimmer and a wick wiper at flowering, have been put to the test.
“The mechanical treatments probably limited yield a bit last year, but also the fact we had such a dry spring meant it wasn’t the best year for testing,” Dr Brand said.
This year, the focus is shifting to the measures that can be taken to grow a very high-yielding bean crop in the HRZ.
“At our Rokewood site in Victoria, we are putting treatments in place to try and achieve an 8 tonne per hectare bean crop in the HRZ,” Dr Brand said. “If we can grow 10t/ha of wheat, why can’t we grow 8t/ha of beans? That might be a case of disease management combined with inoculation combined with variety combined with row spacings. We will be looking at a range of new and existing measures to try and push the yield up.
“We have a whole heap of nutrition treatments on the site looking at micronutrients in beans as well as some novel inoculant treatments and some growth promotants.”
Dr Jason Brand
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