Market drives variety decision

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Northern Gully farmer Mark Appleyard advocates genetically modified canola, but this year converted his program to a mixture of GM and non-GM due to market uncertainty.

Last season Mark's 650-hectare canola crop, including Hyola 502, Cougar, Scorpion, 43Y22 and Eclipse varieties, was entirely GM.

He said he received a market price of $500 a tonne when he sold the canola in the 2011-12 summer but there was a $40 tonne discount for the GM.

The discount swayed Mark's decision to include more non-GM canola in this season's program, with a third of his 1000ha of canola now set to be non-GM.

Mark said his decision to adapt his canola program was purely market driven.

"The $40 a tonne discount makes Roundup Ready canola hard to justify," he said.

"We would need to get a yield difference of more than 10 per cent over conventional canola varieties to justify growing all GM."

Mark said he obtained close to 10 per cent yield increase with GM compared to non-GM varieties when he grew both in 2010.

He said if a market guarantee similar to the one being offered in the eastern states was offered in WA, he would grow more GM canola.

"Yes, a guarantee like that would sway our decisions," he said.

"We need more certainty with price.

"This year we will put in Hyola 404, 43Y22 (GM) and a Pacific Clearfield variety.

"The hybrid Clearfield variety will replace some of the GM canola."

Mark and his father, Roger, started on their wheat program on Monday after receiving 15mm of rain at the weekend.

Mark said he would start on his canola either at the end of this week or next week, depending on the rain.

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