Mallee Sustainable Farming’s Michael Moodie says trials at Ouyen and Minnipa found using hybrid canola seed did not boost yields in the low rainfall zone
A GRDC-funded trial at Ouyen in the Victorian Mallee in 2015 has found there is no benefit from the higher cost option of using hybrid canola seed compared with open-pollinated varieties.
Mallee Sustainable Farming agronomist Michael Moodie said while growers in the Mallee have found canola can bring benefits as a break crop, the trial was conducted to investigate risks associated with the crop.
“For canola to be a sustainable, long-term break crop option for low rainfall growers, low risk management systems need to be investigated,” he said.
Trials were conducted at Ouyen and at Minnipa on the Eyre Peninsula, with treatments including time of sowing, variety and timing of nitrogen application. The Ouyen site received 35mm of rain in April and 23mm in May, but growing season rainfall was 140mm, about 50mm below the long-term average. Extreme heat was recorded in October, with five days above 35 degrees Celsius.
“The difficult conditions meant average yields were very low, at 0.33 tonnes per hectare across all treatments,” Mr Moodie said.
“Early time of sowing improved yield, although this was not significant. Early application of nitrogen increased yield by 15 per cent.
“However the most interesting finding was that there was no difference in yield between the hybrid (Hyola® 450) and open pollinated (Stingray) varieties.”
The Minnipa trial showed the same trends, however with a stronger improvement in yield from sowing early.
“Sowing at the earliest opportunity and applying N at seeding or early in the crop’s development produced the highest grain yields in both trials,” Mr Moodie said.
“This limits the ability to reduce risk by waiting for yield potential in response to seasonal conditions.”
“However, using a hybrid variety provided very little benefit, suggesting that hybrid canola does not provide enough benefit to justify the significant cost of seed in the low rainfall zone.”
The project is continuing in 2016 and will consider the impact of the treatments on profitability.
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