Merriwa district farmers are gearing up for another bumper harvest and their local Top Crop Group was keen to get out in the paddock this week touring the GRDC National Variety Trials and enjoying a COVID-safe outdoor gathering.
The Merriwa Spring Cropping Field Day is a much anticipated annual event where farmers get together with local agronomists, seed growers, breeders, and industry reps to see how new wheat, barley and canola varieties are performing in the field, collect outlook forecasts to assist with grain marketing, and generally catch-up with their neighbours to compare notes on the season.
Local farmer, Paddy Carrigan, "Bow Forest", organised the event supported by Hunter Local Land Services which kicked off at the GRDC NVT wheat and barley trial on the Medd family's "Cavan" property.
"We've had a great roll-up today as there is always strong interest in this trial run by Kalyx to see what new varieties are about and how they stand up in local conditions," he said. "Today of course is only part of the story as what might look fantastic in the paddock may not yield as well so we'll be paying close attention to follow things right the way through."
Mr Carrigan said every farmer was probably looking for something slightly different in a variety weighing up potential yields, protein and screenings, with agronomy factors like plant height, seed coleoptile length or relative rust resistance, so seed industry reps were busy all day fielding questions.
"Rust has been widespread with a couple of good seasons to the west and spores blowing in on the wind, so there was much interest in wheat breeder, Meiquin Lu's discussion on rust resistance issues and the importance of maintaining a line of defence with an integrated control approach."
There were a couple of standouts performers for the day with great interest in Seedforce's RGT Planet barley, Intergrain's Spartacus malting barley and Rockstar high-yielding wheat, Pacific Seeds' Hellfire prime hard wheat looking set to replace Spitfire, and with Suntop, a popular wheat variety locally, the crowd were keen to see AGT's Sunmax.
The field day crowd continued on to the Campbell family's property to view a Nuseed canola trial after lunch with much interest in the new hybrid varieties including, HyTTec Trifecta and Trophy.
Merriwa grain grower, Kim Hunt, "The Ranch" said the GRDC trials were extremely helpful for their decision making and planning on what varieties to follow for the next season.
"This year, we are growing wheat and barley in a rotation, more wheat than barley when normally it would be the other way around. Wheat is worth more than barley at the moment and cattle prices are too extreme for opportunity feeding," Mr Hunt said.
Advance Trading's David Wheaton provided growers with a market overview for wheat, barley, canola and sorghum harvest.
With canola production taking a hit in Canada, the lowest tonnage since 2008, Mr Wheaton said with prices ranging from $850-$900/tonne the best option was to sell the crop at harvest or post-harvest.
For wheat it was best to use an early sales program as prices were looking solid at the present time whereas barley might be worth storing or carrying-over until the price outlook improved, he suggested.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.