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This is particularly so when coming out of cotton, given the short fallow period required under cotton technology protocols, means the sowing date for the winter crop can fall in late May.
Such is the dilemma regularly confronting Commins Enterprises, a diverse family business in Whitton, NSW, conducting engineering and logistics services for the local wine and cotton industries, as well as farming 2000 hectares under irrigation.
The Commins family grows cotton, wheat and beans, with typical rotations being cotton/cotton/ wheat and cotton/cotton/beans.
For that reason, George Commins set about researching a wheat that would fit his preferred window and still reach its genetic potential in such circumstances.
He quickly identified Emu Rock, InterGrain’s high yielding, high quality, short season, AH wheat, as the right fit.
After conducting his own paddock assessment on the variety in 2013, George determined that Emu Rock suited his rotational regime and he ‘pencilled it’ for wider plantings in 2014.
“Our usual scenario is to water up for planting and then, depending on the volume of winter rainfall and water availability, the wheat may receive two to three growing season irrigations.”
In 2014 about 150 ha was sown to Emu Rock, with Suntop wheat making up the balance of the 200ha wheat program. The Emu Rock was sown at 100kg/ ha with DAP and in-crop fertiliser included foliar trace elements and water run nitrogen.
With disease typically managed according to variety profile and seasonal conditions, George was attracted to Emu Rock’s sound rust package. Fortunately, 2014 didn’t present much of a rust challenge due to dry spring conditions.
Emu Rock has 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.
The plant structure of Emu rock was also a plus in George’s system.
“Emu Rock has good straw strength and this is a real advantage, as irrigated wheats can sometimes be prone to lodging. This trait was a prime consideration in us moving over to Emu Rock from Ellison and Gregory,” he said.
Another plus for Emu Rock was the relatively low biomass production, without compromising yield potential.
“The stubble load left after harvesting Emu Rock is very manageable when we move onto cotton, as we like to incorporate the stubble residues and sometimes bulky stubble loads cause problems associated with over wintering insect problems, such as wireworm.”
Harvesting the Emu Rock was a straight forward process.
“Being an even height and easy to thresh, compared to tougher threshing wheats, Emu Rock made for a trouble free and efficient harvest.
“With Emu Rock yields between 4t/ha and 6t/ha and easily making the H2 specification for protein test weight and screenings, it was a very satisfying outcome.
“As Emu Rock has a relatively large grain size, we didn’t have to deal with off spec grain, which can be costly and time consuming at the business end of the season,” George said.
Commins Enterprises intend planting the bulk of their wheat area to Emu Rock in 2015 and George is confident the variety will continue to fit really well into their dual cropping system.
Emu Rock is available for farmer to farmer trading and from registered InterGrain Seedclub members or local resellers.