Getting the good oil on the right canola for your region

Author: Melissa Williams | Date: 07 Apr 2015

Image of Peter Roberts, GRDC Western Panel Chair, and Dr Heping Zhang, CSIRO researcher.

Latest comparative yield, oil and blackleg resistance data is available for WA canola varieties to help plan 2015 break crop plantings.

The GRDC-Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) ‘Canola Variety Guide for WA 2015’ summarises the most up-to-date agronomic and commercial information for new and existing varieties.

Data is split into six regions, from Geraldton to Esperance, which can help growers pinpoint the best options for their local area.

Almost 90 per cent of WA’s canola plantings are Triazine Tolerant (TT) varieties and the area planted to Roundup Ready® (RR) canola is expanding.

The ‘Canola Variety Guide for WA 2015’, compiled by DAFWA development officer Jackie Bucat, compares the performance of these systems in each region to TT with RR and imidazoline tolerant (IT - or Clearfield®) lines - and includes some older varieties for benchmarking.

GRDC-funded research into identifying and developing canola varieties and management tactics to maximise yields across WA is continuing this year by the CSIRO and DAFWA.

CSIRO researcher Heping Zhang is studying the genetic and environmental effects on canola yields in high and low rainfall areas of WA.

He told the 2014 WA No Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) and Southern DIRT spring field days that canola was the most profitable break crop in traditional WA grainbelt areas because of its high value, rotation benefits and herbicide tolerance.

But as plantings continue to expand into lower rainfall areas, he says it is important to use the right varieties and the right agronomic management - including nitrogen (N) input timing and rates.

In 2013 and 2014, GRDC-funded CSIRO trials were set up at low rainfall sites in Merredin and Cunderdin and at a high rainfall site at Kojonup to compare about 20 hybrid and open pollinated (OP) TT, Clearfield®, conventional and RR lines.

Two rates of N were also compared - zero and split applications of 100kgN/ha at Cunderdin and zero and split applications of 150kgN/ha at Kojonup.

Results from the first two years of these trials found RR canola produced the highest yields at both sites.

Early-flowering lines produced similar, or higher, yields than mid-late flowering lines at the low rainfall sites at Cunderdin, but mid and mid-late flowering lines yielded better than early-flowering lines at the high rainfall site in Kojonup.

OP and hybrid varieties, overall, performed similarly in the low rainfall area but the hybrids outperformed OP lines in the high rainfall area consistently.

The TT varieties tested in the CSIRO trials produced as much yield as Clearfield® and conventional canola at both locations.

Heping says this indicates some progress in TT canola breeding has been made, in particular in improving harvest index.

He says, coupled with 2014 trial data, the preliminary research findings indicate both OP and hybrid TT, IT and RR canola varieties provide a range of options for growers to select for a range of rainfall conditions and growing season lengths.

Heping says TT and RR canola – with early flowering – are more suited to lower rainfall areas because of the low cost and stable yield in TT canola and high yield potential in hybrid RR.

In high rainfall areas, he says longer-season (mid- and mid-late flowering) canola allows the crop to accumulate high biomass and therefore has high yield potential.

Hybrid Clearfield® and hybrid RR systems can produce higher yields than OP canola.

Heping says this research is continuing in 2015 and will further investigate genetic traits associated with yield variations between the herbicide tolerant groups and between varieties in the same herbicide tolerant group.


CaptionGRDC Western Panel Chair Peter Roberts with CSIRO researcher Dr Heping Zhang inspect canola trials during WANTFA’s Spring Field Day in Cunderdin. The GRDC-funded trials are evaluating performance of different canola varieties and their responses to nitrogen in low–medium rainfall areas. Photo: Lauren Celenza, WANTFA.

More information

Heping Zhang, CSIRO
08 9333 6000

Jackie Bucat, DAFWA
08 9368 3481


Melissa Williams, Cox Inall Communications
042 888 4414

Useful resources

GRDC Project Code CSP000169

Region West