Hardy wheats needed for western Qld farm

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 1-5t/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 500mm profile
to sow on,” Mr McNaulty said.

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

The crops were sown at 36kg/ha, with no
nitrogen applied, and 35kg 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 180mm
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 2.2t/ha, protein at 11.4 per cent and moisture at 10.2pc.”

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

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

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