New research has revealed that hybrid canola varieties are potentially a profitable break crop option for Western Australia’s low rainfall zones and that growers in these areas can make savings by delaying decisions about nitrogen applications for these varieties in particular.
Trials at Grass Patch in the past two years have shown that Roundup Ready® (RR) hybrids are standout performers in efficient nitrogen use and economic returns compared with open-pollinated varieties and triazine-tolerant (TT) hybrids, and that their advantages more than offset their higher upfront seed costs.
The trials, which are continuing this year, were conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and funded last year by the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Esperance zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN).
While hybrid canola cultivars have been taken up by many growers in WA’s medium to high rainfall cropping areas, less had been known, prior to the trials, about their performance and response to nitrogen in low rainfall areas.
DAFWA senior research officer Mark Seymour said the results, presented at this year’s Regional Crop Update at Salmon Gums, indicated that hybrid RR lines could provide opportunities for growers in the region to use low rates of nitrogen at seeding and then add more nitrogen, as needed, to reach optimal yield.
“The grain yield of hybrid RR canola lines continued to respond to nitrogen applications up to 12 weeks after sowing, while open-pollinated TT lines responded up to eight weeks after sowing," he said.
“When the hybrid RR varieties received less than 25 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare, they also had equal or better yield and returns than the open-pollinated RR lines and all the TT lines that received more nitrogen.”
Mr Seymour said the trial highlighted the importance of assessing the nitrogen status of the crop and ensuring that canola was not over-fertilised in low rainfall areas, as the reduction of oil content levels with increased nitrogen could also lead to big discounts.
He said the trials indicated that staggered strategies for nitrogen application in hybrid RR canola and CB™ Telfer – the most commonly grown canola variety in the Grass Patch district – could pay off.
“We found little difference in yield or return from applying nitrogen at seeding, at four weeks or at eight weeks in these lines,” Mr Seymour said.
More details about the RCSN canola research is contained in an article in the May-June edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover, which will be available from www.grdc.com.au/groundcover
The GRDC RCSN initiative aims to help growers get the information they need, when they need it, so they can make good decisions about farming practices.
As well as initiating smaller projects, RCSNs feed issues into the standard GRDC investment process which leads to bigger projects.
More information about the RCSNs can be found at www.grdc.com.au/rcsn, or by contacting RCSN coordinators Julianne Hill (Kwinana west, Kwinana east, Albany and Esperance port zones) on 0447 261 607; or Cameron Weeks (Geraldton port zone) on 0427 006 944.
Mark Seymour, Senior research officer, DAFWA
08 9083 1111
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
Photo Caption: DAFWA researcher Mark Seymour says new hybrid canola cultivars could change nutrition management in low rainfall areas and enable canola crops to be a more profitable part of the cropping rotation.
Audio download: Click here to download an audio grab for this release. Audio is of Mark Seymour.
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