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After experiencing a tough 2014 spring in the Cannawigara area, west of Bordertown and limited growing season rainfall of about 130mm and only 30mm in the spring period from a few sporadic 5-10mm events, Michael was hoping his Emu Rock would deliver at the business end of the season.
And he wasn’t disappointed, with 300 hectares of Emu Rock yielding up to 3.45 tonnes/hectare and averaging 2.8t/ha, a result he described as “solid, in what was a tough season.”
“Emu Rock might not be a showy or flashy wheat, but it’s the tonnes of grain in the bin that counts and it did the job for us,” Michael said.
With protein at 12.2 per cent, test weight 82 and screenings 2.4 per cent, Emu Rock easily made the H2 specification.
“Some of our country can have screening issues in sharp finishes and fortunately Emu Rock lived up to InterGrain’s claim of good grain quality. We were quite happy with its performance and intend planting a similar area this season,” Michael said.
Although the 2014 spring was a tough one in the Bordertown district, the Hunts luckily escaped severe August frosts and then enjoyed very few hot windy days, which meant their crops had time to adjust to declining soil moisture.
“We did have two areas quite badly frosted that only yielded 800kg/ha, but they were the first two paddocks sown to Emu Rock and were probably sown a bit early considering their paddock history,” Michael said.
As the harvesters went in, the district’s growers didn’t know what to expect, but harvesting the Emu Rock was no problem, according to the Hunts, with Josh commenting that because the crop was quite even in height and relatively easy to thrash, it was trouble free and efficient to harvest.
Like many growers in SA’s medium rainfall areas, the Hunts had been repeatedly challenged by tight springs in recent seasons and these tended to come with higher frost risks.
After analysing local NVT data where Emu Rock was quickly identified as a high yielding, high quality short season wheat that exhibited good grain quality and had been successfully grown locally by a number of growers, the Hunts opted for the InterGrain variety.
“Importantly, Emu Rock also has a robust rust package, particularly for stripe rust, which is a concern locally in some years,” Michael said.
Although he noted Emu Rock was susceptible to cereal cyst nematode (CCN), their rotation of pulses and canola meant CCN levels were comfortably managed with regular non susceptible crops.
In 2014, unlike many surrounding areas, the Hunt’s farm, ‘Innisfallen’, had received very little summer rain and profile moisture leading into sowing was limited. A solid break of 30mm fell at the end of April, however and the season was shortly underway.
Emu Rock was sown at 110kg/ ha in the second half of May on about 300ha, with a smaller area sown to the mid-season variety Scout.
With Emu Rock’s large seed size, sowing rates had to be kept up to ensure plant numbers were adequate and able to compete with ryegrass, which was always going to be a challenge.
“It is comforting knowing Emu Rock can be sown at the end of your program without compromising yield potential,” Michael noted.
At sowing, MES10 in-crop fertiliser was applied at 65kg/ha, along with early foliar trace elements and UAN. Additional Nitrogen was top dressed in split application ahead of rain events.
The Hunts employ the crop modelling tool ‘Production Wise’, to help with management decisions, particularly nitrogen budgeting, as the software predicts crop outcomes.
“By the end of July, the Emu Rock crop potential was good and things were probably more advanced than usual, as the winter had been mild and our Emu Rock held reasonable colour all the way through, even in areas where nitrogen deficiency was creeping in by the end of July,” Michael said.
The Hunts implemented a preventative rust fungicide program on their more susceptible wheats, but as Emu Rock has a more robust rust profile and spring was dry, it was excluded.
According to InterGrain wheat breeder Chris Moore, growers should seriously consider Emu Rock to diversify their portfolio for effective disease and risk management.
“On the risk management front, Emu Rock fits well when growers near the end of their programs, as it has excellent grain size and lower tendency for screenings,” Dr Moore said.
On the disease front, Emu Rock boasts a good disease package, offering growers stripe rust resistance diversity (MR-MS rating) and a useful level of crown rot resistance (MS).
A crown rot resistance rating of MS is among the highest commercially available.
Emu Rock is available for farmer to farmer trading and from registered InterGrain Seedclub members or local resellers.
For further information and details on Emu Rock, growers are encouraged to speak with InterGrain’s Eastern Territory Manager Bill Greenslade, Mobile 0448 883 624