A new canola growers guide, released in December 2018, has been published by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to assist Western Australian (WA) growers in their agronomy decisions for the upcoming 2019 season and beyond.
The guide documents research findings from more than five years of trials conducted by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA DPIRD) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and provides agronomy information for growers in the lower-rainfall regions, who may be new to growing canola due to their location.
GRDC Manager of Agronomy and Farming Systems in the west, Dr Julia Easton, said that the research projects have supported the expansion of canola into lower-rainfall zones over the past five years.
“The relative importance of canola in the system is demonstrated in the doubling of area sown to canola in the low and medium-rainfall zone,” Dr Easton said.
“GRDC will continue to strive for reducing the yield gap in canola in WA.
“The role of the project teams from WA DPIRD and CSIRO in delivering the expansion of canola in WA needs to be celebrated.”
WA DPIRD Development Officer Jackie Bucat said the guide came from the GRDC Western Panel spring tour, where growers were focused on finding ways to maximise the potential of canola in areas of 300mm of annual rainfall or less.
Farmers were particularly interested in learning more about the timing of nitrogen application, which was addressed in the trials.
“Growers have been asking us about nitrogen timing, and our trials have illustrated that some yield benefits can still be achieved by applying nitrogen to medium and lower-rainfall-zone canola crops even up to early flowering,” Jackie said.
“Trials in the higher-rainfall zones, in Kojonup and Esperance, have shown nitrogen can be applied even later, at pod-fill stage, and there will be a yield advantage.”
The guide covers comprehensive information on the timing of nitrogen applications in lower rainfall areas in WA, and also reveals that nitrogen rates are more important than timings in high rainfall canola in WA.
There is also a chapter on critical nutrient levels for canola in WA and low fertiliser inputs to canola in lower rainfall areas.
Ms Bucat said that while WA DPIRD still recommends nitrogen application at seeding and before bolting stage, the trials illustrated growers could have a “second bite of the cherry”.
Other trials documented in the publication include seeding depths and seed size, plant density, weed competition and weed pressures, open-pollinated versus hybrid canola potential, optimal sowing times in different regions and seed retention.
For more information, or to download the guide, visit: agric.wa.gov.au/canola/canola-agronomy-researchwestern-australia-bulletin.