Farm Management

Delungra growers stick to winning 20-year-old formula

Delungra grower Sean Ballinger in his crop of MR-Buster sorghum

If something is working well, leave it alone. That is the Ballinger family’s approach to their sorghum at Delungra.

With numerous on-farm elements to manage, including summer and winter crop programs, weeds, soil health, sheep, cattle, fence lines, machinery, vehicles and finances, they are happy to leave their successful 20-year-old sorghum program untouched.

Sean Ballinger, who works with his brother Nigel and father Kevin at property Lecoin, said while no-till and other practices have been introduced, they have not found a replacement for variety MR-Buster.

“The grain size is the big one for us – that’s where your weight and yield is located. Buster has always had bigger grain than the other varieties,” he said.

Mr Ballinger said it had also been a consistent performer at their property.

“You want a variety that can yield in a good and bad year, because you can’t bank on water before the season starts.

“Even in a year of patchy germination, Buster looks better than the others.”

This constancy held them in good stead for 2017’s Inverell Agricultural Bureau sorghum competition, in which they won best overall points score with 91 points out of a possible 100 and an estimated yield of 9.3t/ha.

Mr Ballinger said their growing season rainfall of 284mm was satisfactory, though a late storm reduced yield slightly.

“A hail storm late in the crop’s life probably took the edge off it but were still very happy with an 8.5t/ha average across the whole crop.”

In total, the Ballingers planted 200ha of sorghum last spring starting on October 15 2016.

“We usually plant 300-400 ha of sorghum each year but it was just how the rotations turned out for last season.”

The crop was planted at 90,000 seeds/ha with a Moisture Manager planter and they applied pre-emergent herbicides Dual Gold and Gesaprim.

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