Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 095 November-December 2011 - North
n A major resurgence in canola plantings in the medium and low rainfall zones of Victoria has created a hunger for information about industry developments during the past decade. The Wallup Ag Group held a canola expo in September in Victoria's Wimmera, with support from the GRDC and Pritchard Agricultural Consulting and Extension, to update growers who had dropped canola from their crop rotations during the 13-year drought. The day was attended by more than 70 growers and advisers. Wallup Ag Group president Bruce Crafter said everyone in the Wallup Ag Group was growing canola this year: "It's been a long time since this has happened because of the lack of subsoil moisture during the drought. The expo gave us a chance to learn about canola again because the varieties and farming techniques have changed." The expo involved a tour of the group's nitrogen-in-canola field trial, demonstrating the importance of early applied nitrogen for canola. Associate Professor Rob Norton of the International Plant Nutrition Institute explained that about 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare was needed by canola to reach stem elongation without deficiency. As the crop size increases, so does nitrogen demand. The group's trial compares nitrogen rates and timings. Treatments with low rates or deferred nitrogen showed severe deficiency symptoms at early flowering, although high rates of nitrogen top-dressed at stem elongation showed signs of recovery. Incitec Pivot's Lee Menhennet explained how to avoid fertiliser toxicity when sowing canola, which is an important issue, particularly in dry alkaline soils with wide rows. Subsoil constraints such as salinity and toxic boron levels were talked through by Victorian DPI Associate Professor Roger Armstrong. Canola is less affected than lentils and chickpeas but more than wheat. He suggested growers undertake one-off soil tests for salinity at 60 centimetres' depth and at 30cm increments below this. He said EM32 maps showed variation over paddocks and could be used to target soil test sites. Other presentations by Felicity Pritchard and BCG's (formerly the Birchip Cropping Group) Claire Browne included the importance of canola as a break crop for cereals, providing 20 per cent yield benefit to subsequent crops on average, largely due to lower crown rot levels but also improved control of other cereal root disease and cleaner paddocks. Nufarm's Mark Slatter explained that choosing weed control options to minimise herbicide resistance risk was the first step in choosing a canola variety. Mark helped growers through the maze of canola herbicide tolerance choices. He also warned that farming systems needed all herbicide groups to be effective to protect other herbicide groups from losing their efficacy through over-reliance. Growers were keen to learn about new varieties, with hybrids providing a seven to 15 per cent yield benefit over open pollinated (OP) varieties in the Wimmera, and popular OP triazine tolerant (TT) varieties starting to fall behind. Pacific Seeds breeder Andrew Easton travelled from Toowoomba to explain the labour-intensive process of producing hybrid canola seed. Specialty canola -- Monola and Victory varieties -- created great interest due to premium prices resulting from increased demand from fast food outlets from 2012. Consultant Steve Marcroft updated growers on the latest breakthroughs in blackleg management and how rotating variety groups would play an integral role in future. Entomologist Stuart McColl of CESAR Consultants said new pest species, such as new earwig and weevil species, had emerged in canola over the past decade and were associated with stubble retention. He suggested a range of new monitoring techniques including refuge and pitfall traps and said night was the best time to monitor slugs, weevils and beetles. Of particular interest to growers, BCG's Simon Craig explained how Mallee trials in the wet 2010 season showed no yield difference between direct headed and windrowed treatments; although windrowing offered several benefits to growers, including peace of mind. The final speaker, Grain Assist's Alastair Beaumont, gave growers hope they could have some control over canola prices by staggering sales and using stack average prices to their advantage when possible. He said a progressive seller forward sells 20 per cent of their crop in September, another 10 to 20 per cent in October and another 20 per cent at harvest. The remainder is sold during price peaks post-harvest. Conservative sellers sell all at harvest while "aggressive" sellers sell all their grain at peak prices. Wallup Ag Group and Sheep Hills Topcrop group members continued their canola education by attending the Australian Oilseeds' Federation's "oilseed supply chain academy" two weeks later, with GRDC support. The growers gained wider links with the industry and an appreciation of canola's processing and end uses. "We're lucky to be able to grow an oilseed that is relatively healthy; demand should stay high," said Wallup grower Rob McRae. "It was also interesting to learn about demand for biodiesel in Europe, supporting the industry and probably adding $100 a tonne to our canola." In addition to the GRDC, the Wallup Canola Expo was supported by the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Nufarm, Cargill, BCG, Nuseed, Pacific Seeds, Canola Breeders, Monsanto, Viterra, Marcroft Grains Pathology, CESAR Consultants, Pioneer Hi-Bred, the Victorian DPI, Incitec Pivot, Grain Assist and the dedicated members of the Wallup Ag Group. □ GRDC Research Code PRI00002 More information: Felicity Pritchard, 0427 600 228; http://anz.ipni.net -- click on 'Wallup Ag Group Canola Expo' Canola NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2011 GROUND COVER 31 Canola comeback draws a crowd Wallup canola grower Rob McRae talked about subsoil constraints in his paddock at a demonstration site of the Wallup Ag Group during their canola expo in September. Considering a new sprayer? 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Ground Cover 096 January-February 2012 - North
Ground Cover 094 September-October 2011 - North