FOR some time Scepter has led the pack among wheat varieties for its high-yielding capability, but growers could have two new wheat alternatives that match its performance to try their hand at.
New variety Ballista has consistently outperformed Scepter for yield in most trials across SA and, according to Australian Grain Technologies marketing and seed production general manager Dan Vater, it has set a new benchmark for AGT varieties.
"It is a very high-yielding variety," he said.
"We used Scepter as a benchmark because it is the most widely-grown variety in SA and it is derived from Mace.
"It has a wide adaptation and maturity that most SA farmers are familiar with."
Ballista has about a 3 per cent yield increase when compared to Scepter.
"We can see the variety being consistent with its higher yield potential going forward," Mr Vater said.
"It's disease package is similar to Scepter, so growers that are familiar with Scepter can expect almost the same in terms of disease resistance.
"But the rust and yellow leaf spot package has some susceptibility, so that will need to be managed."
Scepter was AGT's highest-yielding variety in SA and the next yield improvement is "undoubtedly" Ballista, according to Mr Vater.
Another new variety, Hammer Clearfield Plus, has also been released.
Arthurton cropper Sam Correll has already put in a crop this season for seed production.
He is so far, very pleased with its performance in a lower rainfall year.
"It was sown into good soil moisture on May 29 at 60 kilograms a hectare to build seed for certification to sell next season," he said.
"It has received 150 units of nitrogen in split applications to produce upwards of a 4 tonne/ha crop, with moisture prevailing.
"Hammer is exposing the flag leaf and hanging in well considering the dry spell.
"So, some late September/early October rain would be highly beneficial to help grain fill."
Mr Vater said growers that were looking for an AH Clearfield variety with a higher yielding capability could consider Hammer.
He said previous to Hammer, the highest-yielding varieties in that area was Kord CL Plus and Grenade CL Plus, but these were way "off the pace" for yield.
"Hammer combines a decent level of yield with AH quality. So that is exciting when you put those two things together - it is what creates profit," he said.
"Along with the Clearfield tolerance and the AH improved level of yield, the disease resistance package is good.
"It will suit wheat on wheat application because it has a good yellow leaf spot and Cereal Cyst Nematode resistance."
BARLEY VARIETY BOASTS BEASTLY PERFORMANCE
NEW barley variety Beast has shown early-vigour and competitive performance in marginal rainfall for Pinnaroo mixed farmer Tony Thomas, and half of next season's 4000-hectare program is expected to be sown to the variety.
Australian Grain Technologies released the new barley variety earlier this year, making it a first for the plant breeding company.
Mr Thomas, who sowed 60ha of Beast in early May at 50 kilograms/ha into a mix of sandy loam, sand and grey silica sand soils, said it was important crops had early-vigour to improve groundcover.
"It was a dry, cold start but it looks really good," he said.
"It grows low to the soil profile, but it is bulky and looks really promising.
"We have been searching for a variety that performs better in a marginal area and if it performs better or the same as other barley crops, we will replace a large proportion of our program with it."
AGT marketing and seed production general manager Dan Vater said the future of barley breeding was bright.
"So far Beast is at the top of the pack for its performance," he said.
- VANESSA BINKS
RELATED READING: AGT Southern Crop Breeding Centre opening|Photos
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