These peas bask in northern sunshine by Guy Cotsell
Beginning in 2002, Sydney University’s Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri NSW plans a rolling release of field pea varieties specifically adapted for northern graingrowers.
The first, a white pea called Kiley, will be available to growers for commercial planting next year. Final commercial performance evaluation of Kiley is being conducted this year. Hot on Kiley’s heels will be a blue pea and a dun variety for commercial plantings in 2003. This will give northern growers a third pulse option (in addition to faba beans and chickpea) for inclusion in their farming systems.
Ground Cover will be letting readers know how growers fared with Kiley after this year’s harvest. Experimental results are encouraging. In experimental plantings from the Darling Downs in Queensland to Coonabarabran in NSW Kiley consistently yielded higher than standard varieties.
“Field peas have not been a crop of the north,” said Institute plant breeder Steve Moore. “We expect to see more growers move into field peas now that they will have varieties targeted for the northern region.”
Field, peas like dry feet
Mr Moore said experiments over a number of years and sites suggested that field pea was well suited to the I range of soil types found in Australia’s northern grains region but it should not be planted in areas subject to excessive waterlogging.
Mr Moore suggested that growers plant only small areas in the first 2-3 years to build up experience.
Field pea has a number of advantages over pulse species currently grown:
- recommended planting time minimises conflict with cereal plantings
- quick emergence and establishment (at recommended planting rate) and good growth during the winter months
- flowering pattern minimises yield loss due to frost events
- a range of herbicides can be used to control broadleaf weeds in crop, reducing the potential for herbicide resistance
- harvesting occurs before the main cereal harvest
- desiccation allows earlier harvesting while the crop is relatively erect, thereby reducing the risk of damage to grain quality.
Break crop with fertility bonus
Mr Moore believes that field peas can have a role in assisting with slowing the fertility decline in the soils of the region. They can also serve as a break crop to assist in reducing the build-up of persistent soil-borne diseases, and as an alternate crop for use in herbicide-resistance management programs.
The relatively short growing season offers the potential for use in cotton rotations.
Program 2.4.1 Contact: Mr Steve Moore 02 6799 2230