Farmers who start seeding early this year have the opportunity to use these early-sown crops for grazing in winter, without sacrificing grain yield.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is funding research into dual-purpose crops in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and CSIRO.
DAFWA senior research officer Mark Seymour said Western Australian growers are increasingly interested in using crops for grazing.
“Dual-purpose hybrid canola varieties – which are already commercially available - offer particularly good prospects to growers wanting to do more cropping in high rainfall areas,” he said.
“Trials are continuing in 2010 to better define variety choice for grazing and crop recovery in WA.
“The WA and eastern states trials show you can graze the hybrid canola varieties without a reduction in grain yield, so long as you sow them early and take the sheep off at the right time.
“Grazing should commence at the six to eight leaf stage and stock should be removed before buds elongate more than 50-100mm above the ground.”
Mr Seymour said the superior vigour and grain yields of hybrid canola varieties mean they are especially well suited for grazing, although conventional canola varieties can also be grazed.
“Compared with conventional varieties, hybrid canola varieties have about 20 per cent more vigour and 15 to 20 per cent higher yields,” he said.
“The hybrid canola varieties are known to establish quicker and recover from grazing faster.”
Mr Seymour said as well as their potential for use as a dual-purpose crop in high rainfall areas, the hybrid canolas may be suited to cropping in medium rainfall areas provided expected yields are about 1.5 tonnes per hectare.