Chief CL Plus commands weed control at Pindar

08 January 2019

Pindar farmers Mark and John Flannagan are finding a unique fit for the new wheat variety Chief CL Plus in post-fallow paddocks as a profitable way to help manage brome grass.

This highly competitive weed is becoming increasingly problematic in the northern grain-belt of Western Australia, where it thrives in the shorter season, low rainfall environment and can produce 600-3000 seeds per square metre.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) research indicates average brome grass seed production is 1000 seeds/m2 in northern agricultural regional cropping paddocks if left unchecked. It has also found the presence of just 100 brome grass plants/m2 can reduce wheat yields by about 30 per cent. Brome grass seeds have an initial after-ripening dormancy, but by the start of the following autumn/winter growing season, 85-90 per cent will germinate in response to adequate rainfall.

To help combat this problem, the Flannagan brothers have adopted a fallow year as part of the rotation for their 16,000-hectare cropping program.

Typically, a cereal is sown after a fallow and Mark Flannagan said InterGrain’s mid-maturing Chief CL Plus was a particularly good option now available to them.

He said its key advantage was it could be sown early or dry and the Clearfield® Plus technology, providing tolerance to Intervix®, allowed in-crop brome grass control.

“It helps us to clean-up this weed, and other problem grasses, very effectively without worrying about residue issues from previous imidazolinone tolerant barley, like Spartacus, or canola that may still be in the system,” he said.

“We aim to get good grass control in the cereal phase, reducing seed set and the long-term weed seed bank, but can still produce a high-yielding and profitable wheat crop.”

Mr Flannagan said the family had found in the past two seasons that using a fallow and then sowing Chief CL Plus has significantly contributed to lowering brome and barley grass seed set and driving down the weed seed bank.

He said the wheat crop benefited from access to stored soil moisture from the previous fallow year, which was critical to overall farm profitability as wheat was the backbone of their cropping operation.

The Flannagan’s now plan to sow about 30 per cent of their annual wheat program using Chief CL Plus.

This year they planted 14,000ha of wheat in total and yields of all varieties have been above average on the back of excellent growing season rainfall from June to August.

“The Chief CL Plus was no exception, producing yields equal to conventional varieties and with excellent physical grain quality, despite the sharp finish to the season – with no rain in September,” Mr Flannagan said.

“This was a great result, as we thought it was taking its time to come into head. But it has come home really well.”

Long-term National Variety Trials have shown Chief CL Plus has been, on average, 9 per cent higher yielding than Justica CL Plus and similar to Mace across WA’s agricultural zones. It is the highest yielding APW Clearfield® Plus wheat in WA.

Chief CL Plus also has very good grain size, similar to Wyalkatchem, which is highly advantageous if dry spring conditions prevail.

InterGrain breeder Dan Mullan said the new variety had a key benefit of being suited to sowing slightly earlier than Mace, ideally in early to late May.

He said it had also been bred for strong yellow spot resistance and a very effective disease resistance package.

Dr Mullan said historically, Clearfield® Plus lines had been poor performers when it came to yellow leaf spot and until now there had been a lack of wheat variety options for good resistance.

“Having Chief CL Plus now available to WA growers provides a profitable tool to assist in reducing disease and weed pressures, whilst providing high yield potential,” he said.

Seed is available for planting in 2019 and for more information, contact Kynan Jackson  Mob 0427 855 059 or Email kjackson@intergrain.com