Wimmera crops reach peak biomass

As crops throughout the Wimmera begin to reach peak biomass, which is determined by anthesis (flowering), BCG will be visiting research sites to carry out biomass cuts on trials.

Cereal varieties have varying maturity categories – early, mid or late – therefore we monitor each variety closely to accurately determine when peak biomass has been reached. 

When a wheat, barley or oat crop reaches growth stage 65 (mid-flowering) it is said to be at peak plant biomass. At this growth stage, biomass cuts are taken from each plot within a trial to determine hay yield. After peak biomass has been reached the additional weight is attributed to grain fill.

This year BCG has established a number of field trials investigating how cereal crops respond to grazing. This research has been funded by the GRDC through its Grain and Graze 3 initiative. These trials will have hay yield production biomass cuts taken to determine how well particular varieties can recover from grazing under different circumstances (nutrient and nitrogen application timing).

A plant’s ability to recover from a grazing treatment will vary according to its maturity level, timing of sowing, length of growing season and the impact of rainfall on growth. The accumulation of biomass after grazing is very important for crop recovery as it allows for greater carbohydrate storage that can be used for grain filling if the crop isn’t cut for hay at peak biomass.

One trial at the main research site at Warmur is investigating the use of gibberellic acid on vetch and oat crops (experimental use only), which are also being grazed (simulated) during the season. Gibberellic acid would be applied in a commercial sense to increase stem elongation two weeks after it has been applied. 

Also being closely monitored at BCG research sites throughout the Wimmera and Mallee is disease. Thanks to excellent spring rainfall to date, crops are now at an increased risk of diseases and fungicide regimes are being carried out.

Factors that can influence fungicide application timing are growth stage, crop yield expectations, and potential length of grain fill period and likelihood of disease. 

At the joint BCG and Agritech Rural research site at Kalkee the effect fungicide application may have on yield and grain production in various oat varieties is being investigated.

Meanwhile, at the Longerenong research site trials investigating nitrogen placement, seed treatments and fungicide management, variety assessments and canola phenology are progressing well. A field walk will be held at this site on September 28 featuring speakers from Agriculture Victoria (DEDJTR), Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta, Seednet, Dow AgroSciences and BCG.

For more information and to RSVP visit www.bcg.org.au/events or phone BCG on 03 5492 2787.

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