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Big yield vindicates move to GM

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Conventional canola might have been a mainstay of the Millsteeds’ cropping program for the last five or six years, but some impressive results with GM canola last year have changed that.

Last season, the family grew both GT Cobbler and the GM variety GT Scorpion.

Poor rainfall lead to reduced yields of about 0.7 tonne, but Paul said the GT Scorpion out yielded the GT Cobbler by 30 per cent.

They were so happy with the results that this year their whole 250ha canola program is GM.

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“It’s mostly for a weed management issue tool, ” Paul said.

“The (GM) canola stubble from last year we were able to seed wheat into early, with no weeds and no issues, whereas the (conventional) canola we had to wait and get a germination on it just to kill the weeds before we went in.

“Our whole canola rotation will be GM in the future, it’s probably going to be about 20 per cent of our cropping program and it will be seeded dry every year unless it’s wet on April 25.

“That gives us 20 per cent of our cropping program in the ground before we have to worry about rain or anything.

“In the stubble following, I think we’ll be able to dry seed wheat into that pretty effectively as well. So we may be able to have 40 per cent of our program in the ground before it rains.”

This season the GT Scorpion has been replaced with the GM variety GT Taipan.

“It’s supposed to be a slightly better yield improvement on Scorpion, ” Paul said.

“I can’t say what it’s going to yield yet but the agronomist has said we should be looking at 1.3 to 1.4 tonnes. If it continues to rain hopefully that will be on the higher end and maybe a bit more.”

After a great start on May 16, and 220mm for the growing season, things are looking good on the Millsteeds’ Dowerin farm. They’re already up 100mm on last year’s growing season rainfall, with more fronts expected to roll through.

“(The canola) went in wet this year, we waited for it to rain and then we seeded it on May 20, ” Paul said.

“We had a 23mm rainfall event and we thought that was more than enough moisture in the profile to get that out of the ground and growing. Now our soil profile is full.

“We’ve had a bit of issue with controlling a couple of regenerations of radish, but as far as our canola goes we’ve had a superb weed control because our whole cprogram is GM.”

The GT Taipan received 60kg/ha of MAP trace element blend from Summit Fertilisers and 120kg/ha of Sulphate of Ammonia in April, prior to seeding.

In the first week of July, it received 75kg/ha of urea and has had two applications of Roundup.

“We plan to direct head it at harvest, ” Paul said. “Swathing is very expensive and with the weed control we get, we don’t have to spray when we’re swathing.

“Our machine is set up for direct heading and we seem to get a good result from that.”

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