Promising Pallinup oats

Nathan (left) and David Walker in a field of Pallinup oats.

Western Australian growers, David, Diana and Nathan Walker are growing Pallinup oats for the first time this year and expect the new variety could prove a winner as a high yielding alternative to Carrolup and Mortlock.

The Walkers' East Wagin farm is one of nine locations across WA chosen to bulk up the new variety for wider release to growers in 1996.

Pallinup, bred at the WA Department of Agriculture, has several major advantages over other milling quality varieties such as Mortlock and Carrolup. The new oat is higher yielding, resistant to stem and crown rust and has a shorter growing period. This could benefit most oat growers and prove more suitable in drier parts of the state where other oat varieties are difficult to grow. (Oat varieties bred by the WA Department of Agriculture are named after major rivers.)

Short-season variety

The Walkers became interested in Pallinup because of its suitability to shorter growing season environments. Manager David Walker said oat crops produced on the family farm usually fail to make the hectolitre weight required by domestic millers because of a drier finish to the season.

But he is quietly confident that Pallinup's earlier maturity will mean they can produce a greater tonnage of grain more suited to the milling market's requirements.

Oats following pasture

The Walkers' 2,000-hectare farm south-east of Perth gains average annual rainfall of 400 mm. Crops sown on the family property include wheat, Canola, lupins and faba beans, and Carrolup and Pallinup oats.

Pallinup seed was planted on a clover-based paddock which was spraytopped in late October 1994 with 350 mL/ha of glyphosate to stop weed seed set. The remaining weeds were eradicated before seeding in 1995 with a mixture of 1 L/ha of Sprayseed and 30 mL/ha of Dicamba.

The family's 1995 seeding program started on 28 May due to a later seasonal break. Pallinup was direct drilled at 40 kg/ha through a modified 511 International combine with Ryan tines and Harrington knife-points.

"This is the first year we have used knife-points and we are impressed with the results," Mr Walker said. "We have pulled a few plants up and found most have been established between 30 and 40 mm deep."

Nitrogen was applied at 90 kg/ha at seeding and 40 kg/ha of urea was applied on 15 August.

Although the Walkers have more experience with Carrolup oats, Mr Walker believes the 68 hectares sown to Pallinup is performing better than the portion sown to Carrolup.

By late August, the Pallinup oat crop was at the more advanced booting stage while the Carrolup oats were only tillering. Mr Walker said Pallinup has also handled the waterlogged sand over clay soils better than the Carrolup. Despite rainfalls of more than 100 mm in July, the Pallinup oats had grown more vigorously than the later-maturing Carrolup oats.

Tall variety

The only limitations Mr Walker sees to Pallinup are its height and its weaker straw strength. Agriculture Department trials have shown Pallinup is about 12 per cent taller than Mortlock and its weaker straw strength means the crop may become lodged at harvest. On the other hand, "Pallinup's height may be

an advantage because seed losses caused by shedding are sometimes reduced when the crop is lying down", he said.

Yield potential

Agriculture Department variety trials have shown Pallinup is higher-yielding than Mortlock in all areas apart from the Geraldton region. Trials have also shown Pallinup will increase its yield advantage over Mortlock when it is planted in late May.

Mr Walker believes Pallinup will yield best when it is sown in late May. "Given good seasonal conditions for the remainder of this year, I believe this year's Pallinup crop could yield about 4 t/ha," Mr Walker said. The Walkers have grown Carrolup for three years and achieved the highest yields when that crop was sown on 10 May. Their average Carrolup yields have been 3.7 t/ha.