Garah grower looks to plant genetics for higher yields

Advanta Seeds territory manager Ben Todd (left) and Garah grower Tom Ferguson

Grower Tom Ferguson is looking to better plant genetics to increase wheat yields at Garah in northern New South Wales.

As cropping manager of mixed-farm, Welbondongah, he is tasked with crop variety selection, seeding, spraying, harvesting and machinery maintenance.

Mr Ferguson said while the staple varieties were still performing, investing in genetically superior varieties could help to grow the farm’s profitability.

“Gregory and Suntop are our staple wheat varieties, but every little increase counts, so we’ve been investigating new varieties,” he said.

“We planted a five-hectare demo of Flanker, which with Gregory parentage, promises more yield. That’s why we’re giving it a go – for the promise that it holds.

“It was a good season. We had a really good result despite only 300 millimetres of in-crop rain.”

Mr Ferguson said protein levels were similar in all three varieties, yields were averaging 3.5 tonnes per hectare, and Flanker yielded slightly better.

“We were happy with how it performed, so we’re keeping the seed and planting it again.”

National Variety Trial data backs up the marketing claims, with the closest trial site, Tulloona, recording a 4.7 per cent yield increase over EGA Gregory in the ‘long-term early season’ category. The site has Flanker at 3.54t/ha and EGA Gregory at 3.38t/ha.

Tulloona NVTs also show an increase in the ‘current early season’ category for 2015, with Flanker the highest yielding in the trial at 4.78t/ha and EGA Gregory recording 4.57t/ha – a 1.5pc yield increase.

Mr Ferguson farms with partner Dimity and her parents Geoff and Lynn Hunter, who own the cropping, cattle and sheep operation.

They run a winter program of wheat, barley and chickpeas and in summer they plant forage sorghum.

The crops were planted in late-April 2015 and harvested in late-October 2015.

In addition to adopting new varieties, he said sound agronomics is vital and technology will play an increasingly important role in the operation.

“We consult with our agronomist Tim Poole regularly and we yield mapped for the first time in an attempt to identify and quantify areas with production issues.”

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