Can current commercial wheat cultivars be exploited for early sowing in Western Australia?

Brenda Shackley1, Christine Zaicou-Kunesch2, Jeremy Curry3, Dion Nicol4

1 DAFWA, 10 Dore St, Katanning, WA, 6316,

2 DAFWA, 20 Gregory St, Geraldton, WA, 6531,

3 DAFWA, PMB 50, Esperance, WA, 6450,

4 DAFWA, PO Box 432, Merredin, WA, 6415,


Advances in seeding techniques, increased farm sizes and the concern with penalties for delayed sowing have meant that growers are sowing progressively earlier than May, the current practice. However, there is a lack of data on how currently available wheat cultivars respond to April sowings in Western Australia. The grain yield response of long season cultivars (including winter wheats) were compared to mid-long season commercial cultivars and the commonly grown short-mid cultivar Mace sown in mid-April, early May and late May. Cultivars were sown at three sites in 2015 and four sites in 2016 in the wheat belt of Western Australia. The cultivars grown showed a wide spread of flowering dates with a difference between the long maturing winter wheats Wylah or Whistler, spring wheat Forrest, and the mid-long maturing cultivar Cutlass. The winter wheats were not as competitive in yield with the mid-long maturing cultivars when sown in mid-April, except at Katanning in the Great Southern. Forrest was found to be more adaptable to WA conditions than the winter wheats assessed (based on its yield response across a range of sites and early sowing). The research found that there are commercial mid-long maturing cultivars currently available in WA for early sowing which can yield higher than the available winter wheats or Mace, however all of these cultivars are at risk of frost and grain quality problems associated with early sowing. There is still the need for a cultivar which is better suited for April sowing opportunities in WA.



The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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