CEREAL growers are set to benefit from an upgrade to the popular FlowerPower online tool, with additional wheat and barley varieties and a new component for oats growers to optimise hay cutting.
The latest version of FlowerPower was officially released at the Grains Research and Development Corporation's (GRDC) Grains Research Update 2021 in Perth last week.
FlowerPower, developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) with GRDC co-investment, has come a long way since its launch 11 years ago to predict flowering date to minimise the risk of frost and heat stress in wheat.
The latest version of the tool includes 10 recently released wheat varieties and four barley varieties to enable growers to compare flowering times.
DPIRD research scientist Dean Diepeveen said the new FlowerPower oats component would assist growers to predict when their hay crop was ready to cut.
Dr Diepeveen said the upgraded model could compare the predicted hay cutting date for up to eight oat varieties, including six dual purpose varieties and two hay varieties.
"FlowerPower enables growers to manage the risk of rainfall impacting mowed crops by providing a range of dates when it is likely the crop would reach watery ripe - the optimal growth stage for cutting hay," Dr Diepeveen said.
"It also allows growers to compare the maturity of newer oat varieties to their current crop, with 17 varieties included in the model."
The oats component draws on six years of trial data collected by DPIRD officers from up to four locations including key trial sites at Northam and Katanning.
The wheat component of the model compares predictions for 23 varieties drawing on DPIRD trial data from up to seven sites collected over 15 years, while 33 barley varieties can be compared using data from up to four sites over 13 years.
Dr Diepeveen said the DPIRD FlowerPower model was unique among its competitors as it drew from real trial data, rather than simulations, to provide an accurate prediction.
"Growers and consultants can have confidence in the results, which draw on extensive trial data from throughout the grainbelt and updated every year," he said.
"While some trial sites remain the same for consistency, others vary to continue to validate extrapolation of predictions to different locations."
The mathematical calculations behind the FlowerPower model have also been enhanced to provide grain growers and agronomists with a more comprehensive, accurate prediction.
"The technology we are using now for FlowerPower simply wasn't available when it was developed over a decade ago," Dr Diepeveen said.
"The quantity of information now being processed by the model provides a more precise result on the interactions between the environment, years of trials and the cultivar to provide a more robust predicted growth stage."
The functionality of the model has also been improved to make it more user friendly, in response to feedback from department staff, growers and consultants.
"FlowerPower continues to be improved and expanded since it was first conceived to meet industry needs and expectations, with further enhancements planned for the future," he said.
"There has been a good uptake of FlowerPower by Western Australian growers and consultants over the past decade."
Free access to FlowerPower is available by going online to agric.wa.gov.au/frost/flowerpower.