RESEARCH by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has highlighted the need for faster winter or slower spring wheat varieties to take full advantage of early sowing opportunities in Western Australia's low to medium rainfall areas.
Speaking at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 2022 Grains Research Update recently, research scientist Brenda Shackley said current winter wheats were typically still flowering too late, even when sown in early April.
It follows DPIRD trials last season which assessed commercial and potential winter and spring wheat varieties for their suitability to early sowing opportunities in WA - examining yield, phenology and dry matter production.
Ms Shackley said the flowering date was critical for wheat yield, with flowering required within an optimal period to allow the variety to reach its full yield potential, while minimising the effects of frost, heat and drought on yield.
"Even with an early to mid-April sowing, winter types such as DS Bennett and Illabo flowered too late, leading to lower grain yields," Ms Shackley said.
"Illabo, an AH winter wheat, achieved yields similar to most of the mid-slow spring wheat varieties when sown in mid-April at Dale in 2021 and Katanning in 2020.
"At these sites, the highest yields were achieved from sowing mid-slow spring wheats in late April.
"Winter wheats were not competitive at Mullewa, Merredin or Grass Patch."
Ms Shackley said in a late March sowing opportunity at Gibson, root disease limited the performance of some of the winter wheats, highlighting the importance of local adaptation for success in WA conditions.
"The research continues to highlight the need for a winter wheat or longer spring variety which is suited for early April or earlier sowing opportunities in WA," she said.
"While winter types have an extended growing period when sown in early April, maximum yields are almost always achieved by mid-slow spring varieties sown in late April to early May.
"Winter wheats generally flower too late to maximise yield potential even when sown early."
Ms Shackley said there was potential for winter wheat varieties in the longer season environments of WA where they could better convert their biomass production into yield.
Agronomic recommendations to maximise the performance of winter wheat in WA include:
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