PESTS, including mice and Russian wheat aphid, have posed challenges at the Mid North High Rainfall Zone group trial site this season, but so far it has received the crucial ingredient for success – rainfall.
The MNHRZ group held its annual winter walk on Friday, which was attended by farmers and agronomists from as far north as Jamestown.
Navan farmer Pat Connell and his wife Mary have hosted the trials for many years.
Mr Connell said the site was tracking at almost its usual rainfall for this time of year.
“We had good summer rains, and April was about average,” he said.
“June was dry, with only 15 millimetres, which is about a quarter of what we usually get, but we’ve had more than 60mm for July, which is about average.”
Penwortham-based ag consultant Mick Faulkner said the site had to be baited eight times due to high mice numbers.
RWA activity was also evident from late May, despite being sprayed with clopyralid (Lontrel).
“It appears there is resistance developing in Lontrel,” Mr Faulkner said.
The activity surfaced in the area a couple of weeks later than last year, when it was evident in mid-May.
Mr Faulkner said one of the site trials featured the feed wheat Manning, which was dry sown on April 5.
He said the main purpose of the trial was to see if winter wheat was suitable for the area.
Another trial was investigating whether noodle wheats could have a fit in the region.
“Historically noodle wheats didn’t yield well, but if you look at National Variety Trial data, they’re not too bad,” he said.
Other trials are looking at annual ryegrass control in canola and the use of plant growth regulators.
One of the speakers at the winter walk was Advanta Seeds wheat technical manager Colin Edmondson.
Mr Edmondson said plant breeders were working to create a winter wheat that was well-adapted to SA conditions.
“If you look at the data, you can grow longer-season wheats in SA,” he said.
“But there’s never been a good group of germplasm suited to SA, at the moment you really need a good finish with the early sowing of winter wheat.”
Mr Edmondson said breeders were looking to create a longer-season wheat that could hold on with a tough end to the season.
“We’d really like to see a variety similar to Yitpi, but in winter wheat,” he said.
Mr Edmondson said Yitpi’s hardiness and broad adaptation were qualities that were needed in winter wheat varieties.
“You need a tough enough package to help get similar yields to spring wheat varieties,” he said.
The MNHRZ group will hold its annual field day on Thursday, October 5.