Growers embrace option of GM canola

Farmer hesitancy drops following work to secure storage, local buyer for GM

Grains
GROWING AGAIN: Jarrod Phelps said he will definitely grow GM canola next season too, to combat the ryegrass resistance issue. Photo: LAUREN FITZGERALD

GROWING AGAIN: Jarrod Phelps said he will definitely grow GM canola next season too, to combat the ryegrass resistance issue. Photo: LAUREN FITZGERALD

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Cummins farmer Jarrod Phelps said, despite the challenges of the season, GM canola would continue to increase in popularity as growers battle with ryegrass resistance.

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CUMMINS farmer Jarrod Phelps said, despite the challenges of the season, genetically-modified canola would continue to increase in popularity as growers battle with resistance to ryegrass in their conventional crops.

The farmer sowed 280 hectares of GM canola and 300 hectares of normal canola this year, but said to compare the two was difficult due to the nature of the sowing conditions and season.

"This (GM) canola I don't actually think is that great...the season actually has been challenging but I don't think it's that bad," he said.

Mr Phelps said the GM canola on his property between Cummins and Edillilie was sown at the end of May before waterlogging caused issues for urea spreading.

"We had our opening rain in May and by the end of August we were up to 300 millimetres," he said.

"We were unable to get on our paddocks with tractors...and it's a nitrogen hungry crop.

"So the crop went in a month late, it got really wet in the depths of winter and the urea ended up going on a bit later than it should have and consequently we have got no biomass.

"That being said, I'm still hopeful we're going to get some respectable yields - probably not as sexy as we've had in the last two or three years, but given the price is up around $900-$1000 a tonne that's going to compensate."

Mr Phelps shows his GM canola crop at his property between Cummins and Edillilie Photo: Lauren Fitzgerald.

Mr Phelps shows his GM canola crop at his property between Cummins and Edillilie Photo: Lauren Fitzgerald.

Mr Phelps said he will continue sowing GM canola next year on this farm, while another parcel of land he farms has less of a ryegrass issue so he will also continue to sow conventional canola.

"I think there's been a bit of hesitancy around growing GM canola, and it's been due to farmers being concerned about access to receival and storage," he said.

"I think farmers have just sat back this year to watch, but I think now that they've seen Viterra is taking it and buying it, that probably will allay their concerns."

Cummins agronomist Martyn Chandler estimated the lower Eyre Peninsula had 10pc of the canola crop sown to GM varieties, with that likely to rise.

"If people can purchase seed (for next season) it will be up to 40 per cent, just for the fact that we can't control our ryegrass in our conventional canola very effectively," he said.

RELATED READING:First GM canola load taken at Viterra

Mr Chandler said local research and development being conducted at the moment would also help to strengthen rotations and sustainability in the region.

"Glyphosate is a really important tool, and we need to be good custodians on how to use it," he said.

"We're always looking at an integrated approach ... a lot of people are adopting seed mills in their headers and there's soon to be herbicide tolerant traits.

"That's already underway with research and development to work out the best fit."

Mr Phelps said it was "great to have GM canola as part of the arsenal".

"Because we've got such a broad range of soil types on the Lower EP, canola suits us really well and we have probably led the way with ryegrass resistance and also canola diseases like blackleg," he said.

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The story Growers embrace option of GM canola first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.

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