Management of early sown wheat: soil water requirements for establishment

Genevieve Clarke1, Kenton Porker2, James Hunt3, Kelly Angel1, Ashley Wallace4

1 BCG, 73 Cumming Ave, Birchip VIC 3483

2 South Australian Research and Development Institute, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae SA 5064

3 Department of Plant, Animal and Soil Sciences, La Trobe University, 5 Ring Rd, Bundoora VIC 3086

4 Agriculture Victoria, 110 Natimuk Rd, Horsham VIC 3400

*Presenting author;



Following the release of new winter wheat cultivars in Australia, growers have been presented with the opportunity to sow wheat early, capitalising on early rainfall. The potential to sow winter wheats early without increasing frost risk may be an important tool for some growers where sowing programs are difficult to keep within optimal windows. However, the effect of early vegetative stress on these cultivars when sown early is not yet fully understood. Experiments were established at two sites in Victoria and one in South Australia in 2017 and 2018 to investigate the amount of soil water required to establish winter wheat cultivars early across different environments. Four establishment dates were targeted; 15 March, 1 April, 15 April and 1 May. We found that 10 mm was sufficient to allow germination and emergence in most soil types and carry plants through until winter. However, when planting in March on heavier soil types, at least 25 mm of rainfall and/or accessible soil water was required for successful establishment and to keep plants alive until late May and early June 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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