GRDC Long Season Wheats Give Growers an Opportunity to Sow Early on Early Rains


Growers in central and southern NSW are interested in sowing wheat earlier than the traditional May sowing window. There are a number of drivers of this change.

  1. Advances in summer fallow management, which have led to improved soil water storage and sowing opportunities
  2. Declining frequency and magnitude of traditional autumn breaks and winter rainfall but some increase in summer rain
  3. Improvements in no-till seeding technology, with greater moisture seeking abilities and more accurate seed placement
  4. An increase in farm size and sowing programs which have lengthened the sowing program for many growers
  5. Improved understanding of pre-emergent herbicide use in early sowing

To ensure crops flower in the preferred window, earlier sowing requires a change in phenology and hence in variety, and most Australian breeding programs have recently increased their emphasis on developing varieties with a vernalisation and/or photoperiod response. Traditionally, winter wheats have been grown in the eastern, higher rainfall section of the wheatbelt, although Fettell et al. (2016) showed that varieties such as EGA Wedgetail could perform well in lower rainfall areas when grown on long fallow. More generally, however, quicker developing winter varieties (strong Vrn sensitivity, insensitive Ppd) were found to be best suited to early sowing in medium-low rainfall environments (Hunt et al. 2017).

GRDC funded longer season wheat trial was kindly hosted by the team at AgGrow Agronomy in the Griffith/Rankins Springs area in 2019. Key outcomes from that site were, soil moisture is critical for early sowing, reducing seeding rates in early sown long season wheat varieties can lose you yield, in the right conditions these new longer season wheat varieties have a good fit in our environment.

This year the trial is located at Lake Cargelligo looking at twelve varieties and three sowing dates, the first time of sowing was sown on 16 April, second time of sowing was sown on 7 May and third time of sowing was sown on 20 May. A field walk was held on 6 October in collaboration with local agronomist Andrew McFadyen from MCAG Consulting. The trials emerged well. With good in-crop rain in 2020, we are looking for a reasonable harvest providing positive results for the project.

On the 5th of November a virtual walk through was completed at the Lake Cargelligo site. Below is the video of this walk through, in which we go through the 12 varieties and the 3 different early sowing dates. (Please Note: that this video is over 14 minutes long.) Other Extension activities shown below is a video demonstration of harvest index cuts and what data can be collected within a trial site, which was completed on the 25th of November. The other video at the end of the page is a short video of CWFS completing harvest on the 30th of November.

GRDC Early Sow Trial at Lake Cargelligo
Local Growers walking through the Early Sow Project plots
CWFS Helen McMillan and local growers having a look at the Early Sow Project
Early Sow Project walk through

Virtual Field Day
Harvest Index Cuts