Cereals - What are the key drivers for selecting new varieties?

Contributor: Tim Burley, AusWest Seeds, North West NSW

Cereal growers have access to more new varieties than ever before with extensive breeding programs and significant investment from breeding companies. Choosing the right variety for your cropping enterprise can be a challenge. We are proud to be able to offer you the premier new varieties coming to market from our broad acre seed production partners, GrainSearch, Advanta, AGT, Seednet, Pacific Seeds, Intergrain, Dow Seeds and Waratah Seeds.

When making the selection of a new cereal variety to grow on your farm it is important to have all the information and excellent resources for this are available. Growers should seek the advice of their agronomist and/or speak with a territory manager to see what is available further to this excellent written and online resources.

The “Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide” is produced annually by NSW Department of Primary Industries. This booklet is available free of charge to all NSW growers, and can be obtained from your local DPI office or viewed online (http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/field/field-crops/winter-cereals/winter-crop-variety-sowing-guide .

The sowing guide contains information on all mainstream cereal varieties, and is an excellent tool to help identify the varieties that may suit your farming system.

The following attributes are the key drivers to selecting the right cereal for you.
Suntime Wheat Gravesend NSW
Suntime wheat, Gravesend NSW
Maturity groupings, which are shown in the NSW DPI sowing guide refer to the sowing times of cereal varieties. Having this information helps ensure you can select a variety that is suited to your preferred sowing time. Longer season varieties for early planting e.g. March/April, main season varieties for May sowings and quicker maturing lines for the late plant in June/July. Planting the right maturity at the right time is crucial for managing frost risk and heat stress.

For the 2017 planting season varieties to consider include Sunmax, LPB Reliant and Suntime wheats in the early-mid planting window and DBA Lillaroi durum wheat and Rosalind barley in the mid-late season planting window.
The quality classification for each wheat variety refers to the maximum quality level a variety can achieve and be delivered under favourable agronomic conditions. The classification for each variety by region can be found on the Wheat Quality Australia website (http://wheatquality.com.au/) or can also be found in the NSW DPI sowing guide. APH or AH level is generally the level sought after by most growers as it offers a price premium over lower classifications, however some higher yielding varieties will be considered if the yield or other positive agronomic attributes offer a benefit to the grower.
There are a number of cereal diseases that a grower must consider when selecting a new cereal variety. These include but are not limited to Crown Rot, Yellow spot, stripe, stem and leaf rust, blights and smuts to name a few.

When selecting a variety growers should consider the possible impacts of the disease and the severity with which it can affect the crop, as well as the relevant control measures available e.g. fungicides to help control the disease. There is a rating scheme based on susceptibility of the variety to a given disease as per below:

R: Resistant
R-MR: Resistant-Moderately Resistant
MR: Moderately Resistant
MR-MS: Moderately Resistant- Moderately Susceptible
MS: Moderately Susceptible
MS-S: Moderately Susceptible-Susceptible
S: Susceptible
S-VS: Susceptible-Very Susceptible
VS: Very Susceptible

Resistance ratings are readily available in the DPI sowing guides and NVT online as well as the variety notes on our website.

NB: disease resistance ratings change from year to year, especially with Stripe Rust, as new strains of the pathogen develop.
There are various other agronomic traits that should also be considered when selecting a new cereal variety, these include but are not limited to:
• pre- harvest sprouting
• nematode tolerance
• acid soil tolerance
• herbicide tolerance
• seasonal impact on grain quality

Information on the above traits can once again be found in the DPI sowing guide or by following the variety information on our website.
If irrigated production is to be undertaken and higher yield capacity likely (above 5t/Ha), Lodging resistance must be considered. Data on lodging characteristics of most mainstream and new varieties can be found in the DPI sowing guide.

Varieties with notable lodging resistance include Rosalind barley (in comparison to other barleys currently on the market) and Lancer wheat.

In conclusion, when it comes time to updating planting seed, there are more cereal varieties on offer than ever before. These varieties can offer yield and quality advantages as well as other agronomic benefits to help increase the profitability of your grain growing enterprise. Careful selection and analysis of the key features or selection criteria listed above, coupled with advice from your consultant, agronomist or a territory manager will have you well on the way to selecting the right variety to plant for winter cereal crops.
Yield is the starting point for variety selection. Choosing the top 5-10 varieties that yield in your area reliably is a great place to start. The National Variety Trials (NVT) are a national program of comparative crop variety testing with standardised trial management, data generation, collection and dissemination. In other words a great source of unbiased variety performance information. You can view this information on the NVT online website http://www.nvtonline.com.au/  

The “Winter Crop Variety Sowing Guide” is also a good reference for yield information with tables representing yield data by silo group and maturity.

Some lines of interest for North West NSW are LPB Reliant and Suntime wheats and Rosalind and Spartacus CL barley.

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