Home grown yield test inspires confidence by Tim Evans

John, Bob and Frank Panizza show off their excellent trial of newly released Brookton wheat to neighbour Peter Dunbar (right).

Southern Cross, WA, farmer Frank Panizza and his family are firm believers in 'try before you buy'.

In fact, for the past three years they have been running their own large-scale trials to determine the best wheat varieties for their property.

This year they planted 10 varieties, including four which were developed as part of the GRDC-sponsored breeding program at Agriculture WA for release earlier this year.

In 1997 the Panizzas cropped 6,500 hectares of wheat and oats and a small amount of canola. Soil types are mainly heavy gimlet, salmon gum and morrell. There is also some lighter mallee and wodgil country. Rainfall average is 300 mm and in 1997 it was right on the average, with 295 mm to 7 December.

Three of the new varieties took the yield honours this year, with Brookton and new noodle wheat Arrino the best performers. Westonia also yielded well and all three will be used as part of next year's cropping program.

Mr Panizza said on-site suitability, agronomy and all-round performance could be determined and considered against varieties that had previously performed well.

"We are 110 km from the Merredin research station and the soil types are very different," Mr Panizza said. "You need a big trial with a 30-foot machine to be able to see how the wheats are performing."

Home-grown trial plots

Each of the trial plots was 0.34 ha, with seeding rates and agronomy held constant. The 10 varieties were sown on 25 May with a 43-foot airseeder at a sowing rate of 45 kg/ha on a paddock prepared with 60 kg/ha of double-phosphate. The paddock was reasonably heavy Gimlet-type country.

Brookton yielded 1,892 kg/ha and made Australian Standard White (ASW) grade, while Arrino yielded 1,815 kg/ha but made noodle grade, assuming it is accepted as a noodle wheat in 1998-99.

Spear was used as the benchmark because it had always performed well on-farm and in the area. It yielded 1,755 kg/ha, slightly less than another new variety, Westonia.

The poorest performer in terms of yield was Calingri, with 1,507 kg/ha, but its noodle status still made it a proposition, Mr Panizza said. He said the only wheat they would discard was Perenjori which had 7 per cent of white heads and 3.8 per cent screening, making only General Purpose 2 (GP2) grade.

"In a trial like this you can actually see what the screenings and white heads are like," Mr Panizza said. "Perenjori also was susceptible to crown rot, which you can only tell from actually growing it."

Not lovely at first sight

"During the year Arrino did not look very good at all but the harvest proved that it had done well, which we would not have known without the trial.

"From our point of view it is also good that Spear and Amery, which we have used a lot of, did well in the trials, proving that we are not doing a lot of things wrong," Mr Panizza said. "It was only the brand new varieties that have just come out which pipped them."

In this story, yield is shown in kg/ha rather than tlha, because in a trial situation kg/ha better shows the differences between yields — Ed.

Contact: Mr Frank Panizza 08 9040 1231


VarietyScreenWhite heads (%)Protein (%)Hecto-litreYield kg/ha% of SpearGrade