Horses for courses – benefits of adjusting canola sowing date and phenology choice based on fallow and in-crop rainfall.

Rohan Brill1, Andrew Ware2, John Kirkegaard3, Don McCaffery1, Colin McMaster1, Rick Graham1, Cameron Taylor4.

1 NSW Department of Primary Industries,,
2 EP Ag Research (formerly SARDI),3CSIRO 4Birchip Cropping Group


Optimum start of flowering dates are established for canola across much of Australia but it is possible to flower at the optimum time by sowing slow varieties early or fast varieties later. We conducted 14 experiments across eastern Australia in 2017 and 2018 to determine the optimum sowing strategy (sowing date and phenology type) across a range of yield scenarios (0.4 to 5.7 t/ha). We found that early sowing of slow developing varieties was most successful at sites that had received high (>200 mm) fallow rainfall. At these sites there was also a consistent benefit of selecting a high vigour hybrid variety compared with a low vigour open-pollinated triazine tolerant variety. Later sowing of fast developing varieties was advantageous at low yielding sites and surprisingly at very high yielding sites. Canola growers can adjust their canola sowing strategy (sowing date and phenology type) based firstly on fallow rainfall and secondly on expected in-crop rainfall.


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 Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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