Making sure: do it yourself wheat trials

Below: Kevin Jaeschke (left) and the director of the CSIRO'S Institute of Plant Production and Processing, Dr John Radcliffe, inspecting pasture growth during a field day on Mr Jaesehke's property.

Farming in the mid-north of South Australia, Kevin Jaeschke has found it best to take a very pragmatic approach to cereal variety selection.

His philosophy is to grow that which will produce the highest quality, enabling him to tap into the better-priced markets.

To accomplish this he trials two wheat varieties a year either from SA sources or from interstate. These are usually sown over about five hectares and if they show promise the area is expanded in the following year.

Ultimately the new varieties might be incorporated into the overall sowing program but only if they perform better than those currently being grown.

Testing Sunelg and Janz

esting Sunelg and Janz Among the wheat varieties sown over much of the farm in 1993-94 were Sunelg from NSW and Janz from Queensland.

"It's only when you get them (varieties) on your own property, do you find out if they are any good or not." Mr Jaeschke said.

Mr Jaeschke's choice of new varieties to trial is also dictated by risk minimisation.

The mid-north of SA can be a bad rust area. Mr Jaeschke said in growing Sunelg and Janz he was avoiding the damage which rust could bring particularly stripe rust. But sowing these two, I can sleep at night,'' he said. The two varieties also were chosen because they blend in with his overall farming system and rotation.

Good soil nutrition

In his pursuit of high protein, he sows wheat on paddocks where improved medic pastures have been growing— pastures which are given a kick-start with a liberal dose of fertiliser. Some of the medic pastures are harvested each year. The seed is sold locally and overseas.

Mr Jaeschke is an outspoken advocate of good soil nutrition and regularly tests his paddocks for organic carbon levels. This is paying off with crops often averaging more than 4 t/ha. with protein levels at 12-13 per cent or better.

Durum wheat a winner

A typical rotation on this farm, which is in a 425 mm reliable rainfall zone, is pasture, pasture, wheat, barley, pasture and durum wheal. Lupins and Langucdoc vetch arc also used in the rotation on the lighter soils.

Mr Jaeschke has been producing Yallaroi durum wheat for three years. "It's the most profitable enterprise on our farm and we make sure we sow it onto pasture which is free of grasses," he said.

Gross margins in 1992 hovered at $220-$230 per tonne despite the effect of severe rainstorms in the ripening and harvesting periods.

Region North