Devil in the detail when it comes to wheat variety choices

09 March 2020 Wheat News

How best to manage acidic soils and deal with sporadic rainfall events that inevitably impact his wheat growing season are what drives Perenjori grower Jason King to carefully weigh up his best bet variety options before he details his annual planting program.

This season he’s decided to go with a combination of 3000 hectares of InterGrain’s Devil and AGT’s Scepter.

Last year he bulked up 100ha of Devil and expects to have enough to sow up to 2000ha this season, with the variety balance largely determined by the break of season.

“How much of each variety we plant will depend on when the break comes,” he said.

Last year all of the growing season rain fell in one month, between June 4 and July 4.

“If it’s a late break Devil will go in for sure, as it has an earlier flowering time than Scepter. Both varieties will go in though, regardless of the break, as we can then just tweak the area and time of sowing depending on the season.”

“Up here we never know how the season will end, so we plant a few different varieties to cope with this uncertainty, especially heat events, which are a big problem, at the end of the season. Because of the heat stress risk, it’s good to spread our flowering times across the program.

“While we don’t have too much trouble with frost, heat stress is a big issue,” Jason said.

Last year Jason cropped 7400ha, comprising 4500ha wheat, 2200ha barley and the balance lupins and oats.

APW wheat Chief CL Plus went in early, then Zen as the noodle replacement for Calingiri.

Essentially, Jason grew Devil last year because he had been chasing an earlier AH variety to work in with Scepter’s mid maturity.

“We wanted something to match Scepter’s yield, as Mace was starting to fall behind.

“Also, the Kalannie NVT results for Devil in 2018 were very favourable on an acid soil type.

“Seeing that, we thought it could work well on our yellow, acidic, woodjil soils and it did.

“Also, in our experience, Scepter loves good soil, but tends to fall away in harder soil types.

“Hopefully Devil performs better on our lower pH soils and we’ll test that this year,” Jason said.

“We will watch our planting depths more closely this year with Devil, as last year it seemed to have a slower start, perhaps because we sowed too deep or because wind blew sand into the furrow and made it deeper. We sowed at only 28 kg per hectare to bulk it up and with 15-inch row spacings, so it was also quite low density.

“Compared to Chief CL Plus which is very weed competitive and quick to cover the ground, it looked slower, but once it got going it filled the row spacings and grew well.”

On the disease front, Devil has strong yellow spot resistance (MRMS) and good stripe rust resistance (MR). Jason reported little disease pressure last year at his 9000ha ‘Finiterre Farm’.

Litmus barley was also grown last year and InterGrain’s new barley variety, Buff, was bulked up.

“Sown into a good paddock and given a good chance to get going, Buff did really well, so it’ll be interesting to see how it compares with Litmus this year,” Jason said.

Devil is available for planting in 2020 from WA Seedclub members and is farmer to farmer trade approved.