Project aims to help with falling number decisions

By Shannon Beattie
December 27 2021 - 10:00am
The falling numbers test conducted on wheat assists in identifying its quality for bread making with high falling numbers resulting in a downgrade of wheat at receival.

AFTER uncharacteristic seasonal conditions in the northern graingrowing region, a project has been developed to assist growers with decision-making about falling numbers.

The project is an investment by the Grains Research and Development Corporation in conjunction with the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG), Northern Agri Group, Yuna Farm Improvement Group, Mullewa Dryland Farmers Initiative, Liebe Group in the Geraldton port zone and other groups that may wish to participate.

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Unusual environmental events throughout the season included a tricky start in some regions, with early seeding occurring due to ex-Tropical Cyclone Seroja and the huge rainfall events that came with it, as well as some uncharacteristically cold weather and patches of frost.

Then, leading up to and during harvest, some very patchy and ongoing rainfall events put a spanner in the works getting harvest started across the region.

MIG executive officer Joy Sherlock said the falling numbers test conducted on wheat helped identify its quality for bread-making, with high falling numbers resulting in a downgrade of wheat at receival.

"This is a critical issue for all growers in WA with varieties exhibiting different propensities for low falling numbers," Ms Sherlock said.

"Research undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has raised not just varietal susceptibility, but also time of sowing and the timing of rainfall as having an impact on falling numbers at harvest.

"2021 is the perfect year to collect more data to assist this research in the Geraldton port zone as there have been multiple days of rain over harvest, as well as a wide spread of time of sowing dates due to the cyclonic activity at seeding."

The project is aiming that by March next year, growers in the Geraldton port zone will have a better understanding of how environmental, agronomic and varietal aspects impact falling number test results at harvest.

Furthermore, data collected from surveys will inform growers' agronomic decisions, including variety choice and the effect of pre-harvest rainfall events on the quality of wheat harvested.

A survey of at least 60 growers will be conducted throughout the zone to collect data on time of sowing, variety sown, rainfall events and timing, temperature and humidity, frost events, flowering date, maturity dates, grain quality at receival site, black point-stained grains and the long-term history of falling numbers onfarm.

"The data will be collated and analysed, with advice from DPIRD and SAGI West, to identify falling number trends associated with any of those above aspects," Ms Sherlock said.

"Grain samples will also be collected across multiple paddocks from one to three farms in each region and up to 21 farms, in total, where there is a range of sowing dates across the same farm.

"Sixty farms, in total, across the region will complete the survey and provide CBH grain quality data, with the information to be extended to growers in the MIG network and made available to guide future research."

Farmers in the Geraldton port zone or MIG region interested in participating are being asked to collect some wheat samples, with the project seeking three per property with either different varieties, time of seeding or time of maturing/harvest.

  • Growers should register their interest to participate via Ms Sherlock on 0427 281 007 or MIG research and development manager Tiarna Kanny on 0409 751 586, or their local grower group.

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