Early sowing still a winner despite frosty 2014
Author: Rebecca Barr | Date: 01 Apr 2015
Time of sowing trials run by SARDI in South Australia in 2014 showed that despite widespread frost damage, the highest yields still resulted from wheat sown in mid to late April.
CSIRO research team leader James Hunt said the results confirm that mid-maturing varieties such as Trojan can complement fast-maturing varieties such as Mace.
"Even in 2014, a year where frost was a major factor, sowing Trojan in mid-late April resulted in yields 16 percent higher than sowing Mace in early-mid May alone," he said.
Early sowing trials were conducted at six sites in South Australia – Cummins, Minnipa, Port Germein, Hart, Tarlee and Conmurra. At each trial site, three times of sowing were tested with the first in mid-April, one in late April/early May and another in late May/early June.
"What these data show is that in all cases Trojan sown early either matched or out-yielded Mace when sown in its optimal window of early-mid May (see Figure 1). This means that by starting Trojan ten days earlier than Mace, growers can benefit from its strong performance from earlier sowing and sow a higher proportion of their wheat program within its optimal sowing window," Dr Hunt said.
Dr Hunt says an example sowing strategy could include:
- If May 10 is the optimal sowing window for Mace for a certain grower, and the grower has a 20-day wheat sowing program.
- Therefore the ideal sowing time for Trojan will be May 1 (10 days earlier).
- To sow half Trojan and half Mace, they should start Trojan on April 25, switch to Mace on May 5 and aim to finish on May 15.
- Under this strategy, all wheat is sown within five days of the optimal day.
The trials included winter wheats, such as EGA Wedgetail even though it has poor adaptation to many of South Australia’s alkaline soils and was not expected to perform strongly.
“We found that in some regions such as Hart, Wedgetail performed quite well, yielding 4.5t/ha when sown on April 14 compared with 4.7t/ha for Mace sown on May 8. However at other sites, it performed poorly. For example at Port Germein, the temperature does not get low enough for Wedgetail’s cold requirement to be satisfied, so it only yielded 2.5t/ha compared with 4.3t/ha for Mace and 5.2t/ha for Trojan,” Dr Hunt said.
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