THE impact of frost and heat damage on different varieties of wheat is being explored in a trial run by the Upper North Farming Systems Group and funded by the South Australian Grain Industry Trust.
In the first year of the three-year trial, five wheat varieties were sown at three different times to investigate varietal differences.
Upper North Farming Systems’ Ruth Sommerville said the trial had been established as a demonstration site for growers to visit all year.
“We will be gathering yield information but we are really keen to get farmers in to look at the site and inspect visual differences in how varieties have behaved across the season,” she said.
“The five varieties we selected, Mace, Trojan, Cutlass, Hatchet and a new variety from AGT which isn’t yet on the market, each have varied growth times.
“We chose three times of sowing. The first was April 15, the district standard was May 5 and the late sowing was May 24.
“In Hatchet, which is a late, rapid developing variety, we saw quite a lot of frost damage in the early times of sowing. Meanwhile, the new AGT variety, which is a true winter wheat, didn’t show any frost damage from the winter frosts.
“The yield results will tell the final story though, as we had many late frosts and two heat events during flowering this year according to the temperature sensors on site.”
Mrs Sommerville said the trial had been suggested by local growers following a similar trial by James Hunt for the GRDC.
“Growers had seen the trial on the other side of the ranges [at Port Germein] and wanted to know how to interpret the results to the conditions on their own farms where frost is a more common occurrence,” she said.
“Our trials are very much driven by what local growers want to know. Farmers come to us with issues and questions and we try to find ways of getting in an expert to talk or we seek funding for a trial.”
Next year the trial will move to another site on the same property, which belongs to Todd Orrock from Orrock Farming, to remain within a wheat crop.