Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Toongabbie Harvest 2010

Maize - Unfortunately we were not able to harvest the maize as the cockatoos were there first. I did manage to grab some cobs from the most promising looking trial and measured a hand harvested yield of 4.4t/ha. The cockatoos have been a problem with the corn due mainly to the small trial size and also to the uneven emergence, they pulled out seedlings as they were emerging. If all the seedlings emerged within a day or two then the damage wouldn't have been as severe. Also as the crop was thin and surrounded by trees is was ideal for the cockatoos. A thicker crop in an open paddock would not be as big a problem.

Sorghum - Three sorghum hybrids were harvested with our Case 2388 yesterday. The two pioneer hybrids 85G08 and 86G56 yielded around 3 t/ha although 85G08 yielded 3.3 when planted at 60,000/ha. HSR Dominator yielded less; 2.1 t when sown at 60,000. I am not impressed with Dominator, it is one of the few hybrids that has been in every trial and it has consistantly yielded significantly less than the top yielders. It may perform better sown thicker as it doesn't seem to produce many tillers compared to the other hybrids. It will be interesting to see how it hoes when we harvest the bairnsdale trial soon.

On the subject of tillering - There was a significant delay in the flowering of the tillers on my sorghum compared to the main shoot. As the season cooled down these tillers developed very slowly. In May I sprayed out the sorghum with 2 litres of roundup, the tillers hadn't fully reached the correct stage however the main shoots were well and truely ready. I figured that if I didn't spray then that I may lose more than I'd gain by waiting, I was probably wrong. In the future I think we need to plant earlier if possible and also a wider row spacing, eg 750mm (30"). As for plant populations I think I will stick to 50 or 60,000; planted on wider rows there should be more competition within the row which I think will encourage earlier tillering and earlier maturity. It is interesting to note that in the US they plant sorghum at populations upward of 125,000/ha, and generally on 10" or 15" rows. I wonder if that is to speed maturity so the crop can be harvested before the winter?

Summer Legumes - I had some very small trials in the garden at home. I basically bought some Azuki beans, Cowpeas (black eye beans) and some mung beans from the supermarket and planted an 8 ft row of each. The cowpeas yielded around 1 t/ha and the others both yielded around 1.2 t/ha. These are hand harvested yields so we can't get carried away, however the varieties may or may not have been the most suitable for our area. I think I would like to try some mung beans in a field situation. The azuki beans may be more suitable for our climate, however marketing would be more of an issue. Cowpeas may have a market as seed for forage of cover crops, but I imagine this would be limited.

Soybeans - Soybeans were planted at Bairnsdale and Toongabbie. The former were decimated by stray sheep and the latter by hares or rabbits. Those that survived were very late maturing and I think the varieties available don't suit our climate. There is a new shorter season variety out now that I may have to make enquiries about.

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