Farm Management

Hardy wheats needed for western Qld farm

John McNaulty

For western Queensland cropping business McNaulty Brothers, a wheat variety’s hardiness is just as valuable as its yield, protein, maturity, and disease resistance.

Owners Michael and Jim, and Michael’s son John, believe the sometimes harsh environment at Glenray, Talwood, is not conducive to summer crop production, so their winter crops need to be tough for the business to be profitable.

“We have grown summer crops in the past, but the heat and lack of rain just reduces their yield potential too much. As long as we get a bit of rain on our wheat crops, they’ll grow,” John said.

Their focus is on growing wheat, barley, and chickpeas in rotation, which helps the bottom line and combats herbicide resistance.

John, who lives on farm with his wife Ashleigh, said the aim of the wheat program was to grow varieties bred for protein accumulation to attract a premium price, but that was not always possible.

“We try to chase protein wheat, either H2 or APH, but we couldn’t the last few years because of the tough seasons. Hardy varieties are what we need. Something that is consistent over good and bad seasons.”

Mr McNaulty said they trialled a new variety alongside two mainstay varieties last season on the advice of their consultant, Total Ag Services Goondiwindi agronomist Cameron Derbidge.

“Our agronomist called saying he wanted to test new wheat Reliant in harsh conditions, so I said our red dirt would be the perfect test ground.”

According to long term National Variety Trials data, Reliant is the best yielding APH wheat in 1-5 t/ha environments in Queensland and northern NSW.

“No summer rain was recorded and the first lot of rain was in the first week of June, which gave us about a 500 mm profile to sow on,” Mr McNaulty said.

They started planting on June 9, with about 400 kg of seed going over 11ha.

The crops were sown at 36 kg/ha, with no nitrogen applied, and 35 kg of Zincstar was applied at-plant.

Mr McNaulty said the season was productive for the family-run grain business.

“The season was pretty kind to us. It didn’t get too hot and we had about 180 mm of rain through the growing period.

“We’re normally finished harvesting by Melbourne Cup, but we didn’t finish until November 24.

“The Reliant appeared to be shorter than other varieties, putting its effort into grain size rather than plant size. Grain size was good and it was plump seed, with yield at 2.2 t/ha, protein at 11.4 per cent, and moisture at 10.2 pc.”

He retained the 24 tonnes of seed from 2016’s trial season, keen to see it on a broadacre scale.

“In 2017 we’re seeding at a rate of 26 kg/ha until we run out of seed, so that should be over 900 ha.”

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