Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning

AS CANOLA crops mature and harvest starts across the Western Australian grainbelt, it is timely to think about planning variety choices for next season.
Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning Take the heat out of canola variety decisions with early planning

The GRDC

To help inform decision-making in that State, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has released the ‘2018 Canola Variety Guide for WA’.

This is a comprehensive compilation of up-to-date results from Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) National Variety Trials (NVT) in WA from 2012 to 2016. The guide can be found on online through the DPIRD website HERE and a printed copy will be mailed to all GRDC GroundCover™ magazine subscribers in the western region. 

Included in the ‘2018 Canola Variety Guide for WA’ is information about the new Triazine Tolerant (TT) varieties, Hyola® 350TT, SF Ignite TT and DG670TT, and new Roundup Ready® (RR) varieties, Invigor, R3520, Pioneer 44Y27, DG408RR and Hyola® 506RR.

Produced through the DPIRD-GRDC ‘Tactical break crop agronomy project’, it is a reliable resource for WA growers to compare how all canola varieties stack-up comparatively, between sites and across years. 

The guide includes yield performance data, from NVT online, oil percentage, analysed from NVT results and Blackleg information from the GRDC ‘Blackleg Management Guide, 2017 Autumn Variety Ratings’ that can be found HERE.  

There is multi-environment trial (MET) analysis incorporating yield data from more than 750 canola trials nationally from 2012 to 2016. This enables links between similar environments across Australia and generation of long-term predicted yields for each variety in each trial.

DPIRD development officer Jackie Bucat said WA canola growers can use the new guide to assess which varieties would be most suited to their environment.

She said yield data is presented according to ‘early’ trials (for locations with shorter seasons) and ‘mid’ trials (for locations with longer seasons). 

“The yield data is also grouped according to yield levels,” she said.

“So, for example, growers in Kojonup might be best to refer to the 2.5-3 tonnes per hectare yield group (for the ‘mid’ trial data).”

Jackie said yields of individual canola varieties can be tracked against yield trends. For example, a variety might show comparatively higher yields at high average yield sites.

She said the reliability of yield for each variety can also be monitored according to average trial yields and for different agricultural zones.

CANOLA VARIETIES GROWN IN WA

Information in the ‘2018 Canola Variety Guide for WA’ shows that last season, the most popular varieties produced were TT lines – accounting for 74 per cent of the State’s total oilseed crop.

The biggest proportion (71%) of TT varieties grown were open pollinated (OP) types. ATR-Bonito was the single most popular variety – making-up 38% of TT plantings, followed by ATR- Stingray.

Hybrid TT varieties accounted for 2.5% of 2016 canola plantings in WA, with Hyola® 559TT the most popular hybrid variety.

Plantings of RR varieties across the State were slightly down on previous years at 23% and Hyola® 404RR was the most popular of these (8.6% of plantings).

GETTING THE VARIETY CHOICE RIGHT

Grain yield is the main profit-driving force for canola crops in WA conditions. Financial rewards from any oil bonus are a second selection criteria.

When selecting a variety for specific geographic areas, other key factors include maturity, herbicide tolerance and Blackleg resistance. 

More information about variety performance for these traits can be found on the NVT website and through the NVT disease and yield Apps, accessible at: www.nvtonline.com.au.

Time of sowing is a key agronomic consideration to help manage seasonal risks of moisture and heat stress, waterlogging and frost in canola crops and this will also be largely determined by variety choice.

MANAGING A CHALLENGING SEASON

Dry conditions, frost, waterlogging and heat stress have all played a part this year in different locations. Comprehensive information about dealing with these issues and links to the latest industry information and resources for WA crops is summarised in:

TIPS FOR MANAGING EXCESS MOISTURE IN SPRING CANOLA CROPS

Adequate soil moisture tends to lengthen the number of days to canola maturity by up to 10 days. 

Past research has indicated that if there is too much soil moisture, or waterlogging, this can lead to yield reductions through poor soil aeration and/or increased lodging and diseases.

DPIRD trials have found plants can be waterlogged when there is a water table within 30 centimetres of the surface and no indication of waterlogging at the surface. 

Depending on soil type, waterlogging can appear to drain quickly but the soil conditions can remain waterlogged for several days until fully aerated.

In susceptible areas, DPIRD advises to look for plant symptoms and paddock clues, including yellowing of lower leaves, plant lodging and/or early death, and then verify conditions by digging a hole to assess the soil.

In the longer term, research with GRDC investments has found drainage or raised bed programs (often based on the use of precision agriculture mapping tools) can be effective to help manage waterlogging, along with tactics to mitigate soil constraints.

Tips for diagnosis of waterlogging in canola can be found through the GRDC-DPIRD MyCrop website HERE

TIPS FOR MANAGING POTENTIAL FROST RISKS IN SPRING

Frost can occur at any time during the growth of the canola plant, but is most damaging when pods are small. 

Affected pods at this stage will tend to have a green to yellowish discoloration, then shrivel and eventually drop off. Pods affected later may appear blistered on the outside of the pod and typically have missing seeds.

A key advantage of canola over many other crops for WA conditions is a much longer flowering period. A frost may kill the flowers for one day, but there will typically be new flowers the next day to compensate. 

More information about frost and managing risks of frost in WA can be found on the GRDC website HERE and through platforms such as Twitter (#GRDCFrost), Storify and Facebook accounts. Case studies of tactics being used by a range of growers in WA to help manage frost risk can be found at HERE.

GRDC also has a Pulse & Canola –  Frost Identification ‘The Back Pocket Guide’ HERE.

GRDC Project codes:  DAN00108, DAN00117, DAW709

Contact:

Jackie Bucat, DPIRD

08 9368 333

jackie.bucat@agric.wa.gov.au