With the launch of two Australian bred grain sorghum hybrids from Nuseed this season, growers finally have new and competitive alternatives to choose from.
Named ‘Cracka’ and ‘Rippa’ to highlight their strong performance characteristics and their Australian breeding and genetics, extensive trials have shown both to perform as well as, or better than, other hybrids currently available.
Nuseed’s Crop Agronomy Trials, or CAT trials as they have come to be known, are farmer-led and aim to provide the most up-to-date varietal information about yield and agronomic characteristics to growers, agronomists and farm advisors. The focus of the CAT is to offer localised opportunities for farmers to trial Nuseed’s developing hybrids against those already commercially available in ‘farmer scale’ strips.
This farmer-led approach has been developed and designed to give growers and advisors the opportunity to evaluate local performance on a larger scale, so important decisions can be made with real-world and scalable information regarding all aspects of their hybrids. In the 2016 growing season, and prior to their commercial release in 2017, there were 18 Cracka CAT sites, while Rippa was trialled at 11 sites, indicating the depth and breadth of the field research undertaken.
Andrew Loorham is Commercial Manager at Nuseed. Andrew said the CAT program gave growers a strong indication of how new hybrids Cracka and Rippa would perform in particular localised conditions.
Andrew said, “A farmer can look at one particular CAT paddock to see what the results were in their own particular area, which can help them make a decision for the coming season. Or they can look over aggregated results to evaluate and compare how various hybrids performed overall.”
Beyond the scope of Nuseed’s company run trials conducted by Kalyx Australia and the farmer-led CAT program, some growers are committed to their own approach to trial work on their properties. Joe Fleming is one such grower.
Joe is cropping manager at Parraweena Pastoral Company at Blackville on the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales. Summer crops include sorghum, sunflowers, mung beans and occasionally cotton, and winter crops include wheat and chickpeas.
Every year, Joe undertakes his own trial work to best evaluate current and new options, and how they might best fit his cropping system. Joe said,“A lot of farmers do their own trial work. I like to use my planter, and do it my way, so the results end up meaning more to me.”
Joes explained his approach. He said, “I undertake large scale strip trials with the aim of replicating normal paddock conditions. In my case, each variety in a trial is a 9 metre width of the planter and 2 km long. I do this twice for every variety. I found that results are more accurate this way.”
“Last year’s sorghum trial included 12 varieties, which included the yet to be released Cracka and Rippa that Neil Weier from Nuseed gave me. Given there hasn’t been any competitively performing new hybrid for a while, I was keen to see how they’d go against those currently available,” he added.
Joe said that before he harvests the lot, he harvests one tenth of a hectare of each hybrid, in four spots in the paddock, two in each strip, as this gives a good indication of average weights. He then yield maps the whole paddock. While he believes this doesn’t say much, unless there’s a big difference between high and low performers, he thinks it still an important measure to have on hand.
Joe was pleased with the results of the trial, so much so Cracka will get a run this season. He said, “While I’d have to say the trial was fairly even, Cracka came out in the top three for both yield and quality, which was a promising result. In fact, it will be included in my sorghum trial this year too, and we’re planning to plant at least one paddock of Cracka of 100 to 200 hectares as well.”
“Overall Cracka performed well. I was impressed with the seed quality from Nuseed, and encouraged by my trial results. For me, it’s good to see that there’s a new hybrid that’s competitive in my conditions and soil types,” Joe added.
Andrew said the overall trial results from all sources showed Cracka and Rippa to be competitive choices for growers looking for a new hybrid. He said, “Choice is always a good thing. Growers now have the benefit of two new sorghum hybrids to choose from that best suit their agronomic aims, soil type and environmental conditions.”