Top yields from early maturing canola in Western District

Growing an early to mid season maturing canola near Winchelsea in Victoria’s Western District is a little unconventional, but it has certainly paid dividends for grower, David Langley.

“Growers in the district prefer the later maturing canola varieties, but we have had great success over the past three years growing earlier maturing varieties such as ATR Stingray from Nuseed,” David said.

“There have been some outstanding yields from this variety – as high as 3.6 tonne per hectare.”

This season David has sown another of Nuseed’s earlier maturing varieties and is equally impressed with its yield potential.

“ATR Bonito is an exciting new triazine tolerant variety that looks like it could yield even higher than Stingray,” David said.

While standing in a paddock inspecting Bonito’s many large, full pods in early October, both David and Nuseed Horsham agronomist, Murray Gannon, were predicting a 3.5 tonne per hectare crop.

According to Murray, consistently achieving such high yields is a result of good farming practices and a good variety.

“David sows at the start of May – before the soil gets too cold, and well before many other growers,” Murray said.

“Early sowing is the key to obtaining higher yields as it allows the Bonito to get away quickly and become well established early, allowing it to compete effectively with slugs, weeds and insect pests.”

Murray added that Bonito is not a tall variety – so it does not lodge easily, can be direct harvested, and does not leave a lot of trash.

“It also has a low leaf area index which means it puts its energy into producing and filling pods and not into excessive vegetative growth,” he said.

“Being early maturing, it can take full advantage of the cooler, moist conditions mid-season to fill pods with bigger seed – and that also adds to its yield potential.”

David has also been greatly impressed with Bonito’s early vigour, pod size and uniformity.

“Our Bonito was sown in the first week of May. It established so well that we didn’t have to bait for slug control at all this year” David said.

“Not having to bait four or five times was a significant saving in time, labour and cost.”

Like most growers in the district, David sows into raised beds on the heavier soils to improve drainage, but unlike others, his beds are three metres wide instead of the usual two metres.

According to David, wider beds reduce the number of furrows per hectare, which in turn increases the total sowing area by about 14 percent. In addition, the furrows double as wheel tracks for his farm machinery, which minimises soil compaction.

“We prepare our beds in April after spreading chicken manure, gypsum and lime to improve the soil structure, raise the pH and boosts organic matter levels,” David said.

“We do that before every canola crop, to give it the best start.

“Good nutrition is important to maximise yield, so we also apply urea just before flowering.”

David said sowing an earlier maturing variety such as ATR Bonito allows him to harvest earlier which fits in well with his farming schedule.

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David and Tracey Langley, and Nuseed’s Murray Gannon, predict the ATR Bonito will yield at least 3.5 t/ha.