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Seasonal Conditions Shaping Grower Priorities

10 October 2011

AUSTRALIA - Grain growers in Western Australia's eastern grainbelt are confronting agronomic issues associated with dry seeding and dry finishes to the seasons, and need crop varieties to suit these conditions.

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) western panel chairman Peter Roberts said these and other priorities were voiced by farmers during the GRDC western panel's spring tour of WA's central and eastern grain growing areas.

Mr Roberts, fellow panellists Shauna Stone and John Even, and new GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions (RCS) facilitator Julianne Hill toured districts including Corrigin, Kulin, Lake Grace, Bruce Rock, Merredin, Bodallin, Bencubbin, Mukinbudin and Kellerberrin.

The tour was one of three separate spring tours by GRDC western panel members this year, with the aim being to improve two-way communication to help achieve grower-focussed research.

Other panellists toured WA's northern grainbelt and southern regions.

Mr Roberts said that, due to dry starts to the season and dry-seeding of crops, eastern grainbelt farmers were having particular difficulty managing the weed barley grass, which is hard to control in-crop.

"Other issues for these eastern growers include drought and frost affecting wheat yields, a need for low cost farming inputs, and an increasing amount of land being brown manured," he said.

Tarin Rock growers Kevin Naisbitt, left, and Mark Pearce, with GRDC western panel chairman Peter Roberts.

Mr Roberts said priorities voiced by growers farther to the west included frost and a need for more profitable legumes.

He said the recent release of a new, higher yielding lupin variety – PBA Gunyidi – was well received by growers and would help meet this need for improved legume profitability.

Mr Roberts said growers who joined panel members to tour the GRDC supported Managed Environment Facility (MEF) at Merredin gave positive feedback about the new facility.

"Growers were very excited at the potential for the facility to be used to help identify traits which will allow us to grow cereal varieties in drier conditions," Mr Roberts said.

He said issues raised by growers during the 2011 GRDC western panel spring tours would be included in the GRDC’s investment priority process, and ranked alongside priorities raised by other sources including agronomists and research institutes.

Mr Roberts said growers consulted during the spring tours were generally very positive about the expanded GRDC spring tours in WA, which would allow the GRDC western panel to cover more of the grainbelt, more often.

"On this tour alone we met with hundreds of people, and on the whole growers were very appreciative of us being able to explain the GRDC investment process to them," he said.

"Growers were also very positive about the establishment of new GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions (RCS) networks in WA, which will enhance the GRDC’s ability to identify and prioritise local production issues."

Mr Roberts said crops in WA's central and eastern grain growing areas looked good, and with a finishing rain the region would have good potential.

TheCropSite News Desk

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