Evaluating wheat, barley and oats for early sowing in frost prone landscapes in Western Australia Wickepin 2017 and 2018

Ben Biddulph1 Chloe Turner2 Rebecca Smith3 Sarah Jackson1 Karyn Reeves4 and Dean Diepeveen1

1Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development 2Facey Group 3Living Farm 4Curtin Uni SAGI West

Corresponding author: ben.biddulph@dpird.wa.gov.au


Spring frosts can cause significant grain yield losses to cereals after head emergence. This trial examined the  relative  suitability  of  long, mid and short season wheat,  barley  and  oats  to  early  sowing  in  frost  prone landscapes  in  WA at Wickepin in 2017-2018 with 4 sowing windows, . Trials were successful frosted in all seasons during the June to Oct; compared to wheat, oats and barley were less damaged by frost during flowering and grain fill and more profitable with early April sowing. With a mid-April sowing, Bannister oats achieved a higher grain yield and gross income compared to wheat and barley in 2017 and the highest yield and gross income of all sowing windows in 2018. With a late-May sowing, Bass barley achieved a higher grain yield and produced the highest gross income in frost-prone landscapes in 2017 and 2018. Sowing short-season wheat and barley varieties in April and late-April resulted in grain being either downgraded to feed and general-purpose milling in 2017 or having no commercial value at all in 2018. Wheat was not suitable for sowing in frost-prone landscapes relative to oats or barley but, of the wheat varieties evaluated, Forrest sown in mid-April in the high rainfall 2017 season (370mm GSR and early break) was competitive with barley and oats. Frost was not the only issue with early sowing, foliar disease pressure is also higher and contributed to yield decline along with frost particularly in Bass barley (leaf rust) and Durack oats (oat stripe blight) with mid- and late-April sowings in 2017. In Wickepin it is better to sow frost-prone areas in mid-April to early-May to long-season oats or in mid- to late-May to long- to mid-season barley varieties rather than sowing wheat.


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.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography david_marland@hotmail.com Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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