Legumes the perfect break crop

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

A seeding delayed by wet conditions has not dampened the prospects for Condingup farmer John Mansell's crop.

Mr Mansell, who farms with his wife Ruth, started seeding their 2580ha early, after March rainfall created perfect conditions across the region.

Seeding started on April 15, with 120ha of Cobra GM and 340ha of Jackpot TT canola, followed by 1760ha of Mace wheat, 20ha of Bass barley and 340ha of lupins, with the latter comprising 330ha of Mandelup and 10ha of Gunyidi.

"We started a few weeks early and I'm glad we did. We had 600ha to go on May 20 when we received 60mm and got washed out. The wet stretched seeding out to the end of June," Mr Mansell said.

Wet conditions have contributed to some loss through waterlogging. However, Mr Mansell hopes that higher yields will account for the loss.

"We had our average yearly fall of 450mm by August 6," he said. "We don't really need any more."

Legumes have been an integral part of the Mansells' crop-only rotation as a break crop, providing an organic nitrogen base as well as forming part of a herbicide resistance strategy.

Gunyidi lupins were sown at 100kg/ha, and the rates were upped to 120kg/ha on Mandelup.

Both varieties also received 70kg/ha of MAP Extra with 14 units of P on sowing.

Despite good results from Mandelup in the 2012 harvest, Mr Mansell has been trialling Gunyidi as an alternative.

"The Mandelup was averaging 2.4 tonnes per hectare last year until it rained," he said.

"After that, the yield dropped to 1.8t/ha due to the pods opening up with the moisture.

"We're looking at Gunyidi, because reportedly it has the same characteristics as Mandelup but better pod-shattering properties."

The growing season has been particularly kind on the Mansells' program.

"We had a few aphids in the cereals and had to use some Nail knockdown on some marshmallows - but there hasn't been many problems," he said.

Come harvest, Mr Mansell will be looking to reap the benefits of such a smooth growing period.

"I'm impressed with the wheat in particular and it would be nice to think we could average 2t/ha on the lupins," he said.

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