SA grain growers get set for season 2017

Author: | Date: 14 Feb 2017

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley, pictured speaking at the Adelaide Grains Research Update, said 2016 had underlined the importance of creating adaptable farming systems.

The repercussions from a wet and high-yielding 2016 cropping season are expected to present an array of opportunities and challenges for South Australian grain growers this year.

Significant sub-soil moisture levels across the State offer growers a promising foundation ahead of sowing, but careful management of summer weeds, soil nutrients, diseases and pests will be required over the coming months to ensure yield and profit potential is not compromised.

This is the scenario that was painted at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 2017 Adelaide Grains Research Update, attended by more than 350 growers, advisers and grains industry personnel from throughout SA and beyond.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley told Update attendees that preserving stored soil moisture will be a priority for growers.

“Following heavy rainfall in 2016 and over the past month or so, control of summer weeds which rob the soil of moisture and nutrients will be an extremely important requirement,” Mr Pengilley said.

“Summer weeds and volunteer cereals also harbour insect pests and diseases, so eliminating that green bridge will be a fundamental task.

“And with 2016’s high-yielding crops creating an abundance of food supply, mice will be another potential issue at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

“Slugs and snails in high rainfall areas could again be a problem this year, and decisions will need to be made around best management of heavy stubble loads.”

Mr Pengilley said 2016 had underlined the importance of creating adaptable farming systems – those that are able to withstand the challenges associated with extreme weather conditions and environmental and biological pressures such as the incursion of Russian wheat aphid which was detected for the first time in Australia in SA’s Mid North last year.

“Recognising this need, the GRDC invests in research, development and extension to equip growers with the knowledge and tools required to enable them to capitalise on opportunities and reduce their exposure to risk  by developing flexible, profitable and resilient farming systems,” he said.

The latest advice and understandings being generated out of those GRDC-funded research programs were presented at the Update in Adelaide where leading researchers and scientists from throughout Australia and around the world delivered to growers and their advisers important key messages for the season ahead, including:

Russian wheat aphid is likely to be a manageable pest if growers implement a combination of effective cultural, chemical and natural controls;

In paddocks at risk of damage by millipedes or slaters, growers should avoid canola, lucerne and lupins, and if practical consider sowing faba beans or cereals;

It may well be that the nitrogen “cupboard is bare” for the coming season – a deep soil test is the only way to determine if that is the case;

At-sowing rates of other mobile nutrients such as sulphur and potassium may need to be raised following a wet 2016 which could have caused leaching;

  • Early identification of frost damage is important – the time from damage to identification can be critical in extracting the most out of a frosted crop;
  • Herbicide resistance testing will take the guesswork out of herbicide selection and can identify effective post-emergent options;
  • Sowing on time to maximise wheat competition with annual ryegrass will help reduce weed seed set and increase crop yield;
  • Plan for management of blackleg disease in canola in 2017 assuming average seasonal conditions, keeping in mind the increased risk associated with cultivars that have reduced resistance, as well as high inoculum loads from 2016’s crop residue;
  • Septoria tritici blotch inoculum is likely to be present at much higher levels in 2017 given the large number of rainy days in 2016 which allowed the fungus to spread;
  • Higher inoculum levels of eyespot disease are likely to be present in 2017, and take-all is another disease to watch out for;
  • The presence of sclerotinia in canola and pulse crops during 2016 will mean an increased risk of infection of pulse and oilseed crops from soil-borne sclerotes for up to five years, particularly in wet seasons;
  • Expansion of lentil crops into high rainfall and low rainfall regions needs to be based on sound paddock selection, agronomic management, variety choice and long-term yield performance;
  • It is important for growers not to compromise managing weeds and diseases and sowing their crops in 2017 due to excessive stubble loads.

Papers presented at the Adelaide Update are available for viewing on the GRDC website.

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel
0448 015 539


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675 100

Region South

GRDC Project code: ORM00014