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So far so good on seeding rates

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Manipulating seeding rates could help growers play the season, according to Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) research agronomist Mohammad Amjad.

In a trial at WANTFA's Cunderdin field site, Dr Amjad looked at the effects on growth of various seeding rates and times of sowing.

Six crop varieties, Calingiri, Fortune, Mace, Magenta, Wyalkatchem and Yitpi, were tested against three seeding rates, 40, 80 and 120kg/ha, and two times of sowing.

Although final results are yet to be determined, the differences in plant growth are clearly visible.

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"In the case of Mace you can clearly see the highest seeding rate looks like one week to 10 days in advance compared to the lower seeding rate," Dr Amjad said.

"What happens in the lower seeding rate, plants are putting all their energy into producing more side tillers.

"Whereas at high seeding rate there is competition between the plants and they are putting more energy towards maturity, so there are more heads and it is already flowering."

Dr Amjad said it appeared that for some varieties, such as Mace and Magenta, there could be an opportunity for growers to increase the seeding rate to advance maturity.

"Every grower should have a combination of at least three varieties of different maturity and they should reduce their risk by manipulating different varieties as the season progresses," he said. "By having a combination of three varieties at different input levels we can manipulate the season."

The next stage of the trial is to erect a tent to control the moisture applied to half of the plots during flowering.

"We will be able to see how the varieties are performing and what their relationship is with the season if it is cut off," Dr Amjad said.

The trial, which has Grains Research and Development Corporation funding, is significant because it can help provide agronomy and management information on new varieties.

"We have the National Variety Trials where we are testing varieties on a broadly regional basis, but we are not testing in farmers own environment with different management," Dr Amjad said. "That information is lacking from a management and agronomy point of view."

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