Tactical move on grains

The West Australian

Grain growers will have access to more agronomic information on new and emerging wheat varieties as part of a new project developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

The Tactical Wheat Agronomy in the West project, jointly funded by the department and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), focuses on delivering agronomic information to enable growers to make wheat variety selections best suited to their climatic conditions, and subsequently increase their profitability.

Department grains research officer Christine Zaicou-Kunesch said the key focus areas for the 2015 season were testing long season wheats, managing wheat in a continuous sequence and improving grower selection through improved knowledge of risk factors such as pre-harvest sprouting, frost and heat stress.

"Department researchers will work with grower groups and the Frontline Agronomy Reference Group, which includes representatives from GRDC and the five regional cropping networks, on collaborative projects to broaden industry knowledge of the research being undertaken and the benefits for growers," Ms Zaicou-Kunesch said.

She said one project would look at the impact of grain sprouting before harvest on grain quality and, ultimately, grower returns.

"Rain at harvest can have a significant effect on grain quality by degrading starch quality, and this is measured as a falling number index," she said.

"The department's new grains research officer Jeremy Curry, based in Esperance, will focus on trials to assess the falling number index of new and current wheat varieties.

"A new machine - a rainfall simulator - is being used to simulate a range of artificial weather conditions for at least 24 wheat varieties, sown at five different times at the department's Gibson trial site.

"Wheat heads will be cut from the trial plots when ready to harvest, placed in the rainfall simulator and watered to resemble a rainfall event.

"Data will then be collected to see which varieties sprout more readily than others, and cross-referenced with information on sowing time, time of flowering and duration of grain fill.

"This collective information will help growers who are likely to experience rainfall events during the harvest period to make the best variety decision."

This trial will run for the 2015 growing season. Information will then be made available to growers for variety selection for 2016.

Information on the Tactical Wheat Agronomy in the West project will be provided at the spring field days.

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