On The Ground: Tiger triumphs in on-farm trial
April 4, 2016
Grower story from Anthony Smith, North Callandoon.
An on-farm comparison of two hybrid sorghum crops has yielded exciting results for growers looking for a high yielding crop that can handle a range of conditions and mature quickly.
Anthony Smith from North Callandoon near Goondiwindi, Queensland, was encouraged to trial Nuseed’s Tiger sorghum as part of his 180 hectare grain sorghum crop last summer.
“My agronomist recommended a quick maturing hybrid that he knew a lot about, but John English, who helps me on the farm, suggested I talk to his son about varieties as well,” he said.
John’s son, Tim, works for Nuseed, and was happy to provide some background information and advice on their medium-quick variety, Tiger.
“After farming all his life, John has seen a lot of sorghum varieties come and go and was keen to see how the Tiger would go,” said Mr Smith.
“It looked like it could perform well and handle tough finishes, so I was happy to try it.”
He planted 20 hectares of Tiger in the middle of his crop to compare them directly, with Tim English from Nuseed monitoring and recording the progress of the two varieties.
“We pegged out a block in the middle of the paddock and both crops were managed as one, with the same fertiliser and sprays,” he said.
While both crops performed well, at the end of the season there was a 9% yield advantage to Tiger. The bulk of the sorghum yielded an average of 3.3 t/ha, but Tiger yielded 3.6 t/ha.
The late planted crop was sown on 9 January 2015 using a double skip planting configuration and two metre rows.
Mr Smith uses a minimum till farming system, supplemented with strip tilling on the plant line. During this cultivation, conducted in August 2014, he added 100 kg/ha of urea.
He explained that the strip tilling process sets up an ideal soil bed for planting, reducing any compaction on the plant line and improving water infiltration.
At sowing, he was also keenly aware that the crop did not have a full profile of soil moisture.
“I was a bit concerned it might have a tough finish, but as it turned out, the crop was inundated with 75 mm of rain within 10 days of planting,” he said.
“The plants were only just emerging and it was hit with this flooding, which gave it a rough start.
“The Tiger was out of the ground two days quicker and managed to hang on pretty well through the wet start.
“In fact, it looked greener and healthier than the other sorghum for most of the season.”
A total of 280 mm of rainfall was received in crop.
“It rained nearly every week for a while, so it wasn’t being held back by moisture and we soil tested through the season to make sure nutrition wasn’t holding it back either,” he said.
His brother, Matthew, sprayed the weeds out using glyphosate and a shielded sprayer. The brothers have a contract farming business, with Anthony concentrating on planting and Matthew on spraying.
“The Tiger was quicker to emerge, flowered three days earlier and came to head emergence sooner,” Mr Smith said.
However, he said it was impossible to predict the yield difference before harvest.
The sorghum was sprayed out on 9 May and harvested on 11 June.
“Tiger wasn’t a good looking, showy crop,” he said. “It was taller and had less tillers, making it a bit straggly looking, but the yield monitor doesn’t lie.”
With the paddock now sown to chickpeas, Mr Smith doesn’t expect to be growing sorghum this summer, but will look to grow Tiger again when the rotation allows.
“I bought this property two years ago and so far I’ve just been keeping it under production as much moisture allows,” he said.
Tim English, Nuseed’s Market Development Agronomist, said he had seen Tiger perform well in a range of New South Wales and Queensland farms over the past two seasons.
He described Tiger as a large grained, medium to quick hybrid that offered consistent yields under a range of growing conditions.
He said it could be planted early and would tolerate colder starts, but with its quick maturity would also perform well when planted late.
“Tiger is very adaptable and performs well against a range of commercially available hybrids,” he said.
He encouraged growers to plant some next to their favourite hybrid this season and see how it goes.
Andrew Loorham, Nuseed’s Commercial Manager and Tim English, Nuseed’s Market Development Agronomist, based in Toowoomba, with Anthony Smith in his high yielding Tiger sorghum crop.