'Slow' wheat could be the answer
PLANTING slow maturing wheat varieties earlier in the year could be the answer to maintaining high yields in southern Australia, despite its changing climate.
Research carried out with support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) shows slow maturing varieties planted earlier in the year have a better chance of delivering consistently high yields for growers in the Southern Cropping Region.
Dr James Hunt, a CSIRO researcher, said planting slow maturing varieties as early as mid-April could let crops take advantage of precious stored soil moisture.
“It turned out that those slow maturing varieties planted early could take much better advantage of that stored soil water and had quite a significant advantage over main season varieties sown in May,” he said.
“What having a slow maturing variety in a wheat program allows you to do is open up your sowing window so you can take advantage of small rainfall events when they come.
“In the last 17 years there’s been a marked decline in April and May rainfall.
“What that has meant is that we have less sowing opportunities in that main season period.
“There hasn’t been a decline in February/March rainfall - if anything it’s increased, and you can start to use that to replace our traditional autumn break.”