On The Ground: WA Canola variety trial provides vital results
February 27, 2017
Grower story from Ben Oldfield, Kendenup WA
Canola growers in Western Australia’s Great Southern region can use the findings of Nuseed’s grower-led canola variety trial to make informed decisions on their crop choices for this year, thanks to the detailed record keeping of Ben Oldfield from Kendenup.
Mr Oldfield was selected to trial the company’s new mid-season Roundup Ready® hybrid, GT-53, against his commercial crop in 2016 as part of Nuseed’s Crop Agronomy Trial (CAT) program.
His observations are now particularly valuable, given that the National Variety Trials in the region were flooded and unable to report results.
“We had one of our wettest seasons in 30 years with an annual rainfall of more than 730 mm and hardly any dry days through winter,” he said.
While the wet conditions were challenging, the crops made the most of the moisture and produced very high yields.
At harvest, the GT-53 yielded 3.3 t/ha with 47% oil.
“I have always been impressed with the performance of Nuseed GT-50, so I was keen to see how Nuseed could improve on that with GT-53,” he said.
“In 2015, one of our paddocks of GT-50 averaged 3.2 t/ha, so it looks like they’ve done it.”
The GT-53 was seeded on 14 April with 100 kg/ha of a complete starter fertiliser, in the middle of a paddock of Hyola 600 RR.
“The crops were seeded into perfect conditions, with warm, damp soil, and this allowed both varieties to surge out of the ground,” said Mr Oldfield.
“The GT-53 in particular had excellent early vigour which is brilliant for weed competition.
“Because it gets so wet here, the quicker the crop can cover the ground and smother the weeds, the better.”
Mr Oldfield said their nitrogen strategy for canola was to keep to a maintenance level early, then apply significant amounts when the crop starts bolting.
He said this strategy seemed to agree with GT-53.
“It quickly established a great pod depth and filled the pods to the full extent,” he said.
They topdressed 150 kg/ha of sulphate of ammonia on 20 May, followed by a 2 L/ha Roundup 450 spray 10 days later.
Flexi-N was applied twice, with 100 L/ha used in late June and 70 L/ha applied in a tank mix with Prosaro on 20 July.
This brought the crop’s total nitrogen supply to 100 units of nitrogen from seeding to July.
“The crops enjoyed the long, cool, wet flowering period and were both clean for blackleg,” said Mr Oldfield.
Nuseed GT-53 is rated ‘R’ for blackleg resistance, the highest possible resistance level.
The Gillamii grower group visited the CAT trial in mid October as part of their canola field walk itinerary.
At this stage, the GT-53 had finished flowering and the depth of pods was “exceptional”, according to Andrew Royce, Nuseed Territory Sales Manager Southern Western Australia.
“We really appreciate Ben’s assistance and time with having growers and agronomists across the farm last spring,” he said.
“The field walk gave local growers a unique opportunity to visually assess a new variety and track how it performs locally.
“Nuseed is continually developing new canola varieties to suit Australian conditions and I would encourage growers to participate in our CAT program to assess these developing varieties at a local level before commercial release.”
Mr Oldfield observed that the GT-53 finished flowering three weeks before the rest of the paddock, which could offer growers opportunities with later seeding.
“I think you could still be seeding to mid May and it would still have time to finish well,” he said.
“The GT-53 was taller than I thought it would be, but it had good standability for direct heading.”
At times, poor standability can cause them some frustration, especially in high yielding, damp seasons.
The crops were harvested in December, with the GT-53 just edging out the rest of the paddock and yielding 3.3 t/ha.
“Overall, I think the GT-53 has a big top end potential and would suit seeding from mid April through to mid May,” he said.
“It’s well worth considering for this area.”