WITH timely rain in many parts of the traditional durum wheat production areas of NSW and South Australia, a Tamworth-based NSW Department of Primary Industries durum breeder is urging farmers to select varieties best suited to their requirements.
"There have been some new varieties released in recent years and they all have their fit," said Gururaj Kadkol, northern node durum wheat breeder for Durum Breeding Australia (DBA)
"The results from these new lines have been exciting and they fit the production environment better."
Dr Kadkol said durum is a significant crop in NSW and southern Queensland, with 100-120,000 hectares planted annually and average annual production of around 350,000 tonnes, the majority of which is exported out of Newcastle.
He said farmers appreciated the versatility of the crop, which can be planted from mid-May right through to July with reasonable expectations of success.
"Results have shown with the right varieties you can still produce a good yield from a late planting."
"Often that can be after a cotton crop."
"This year the late planting window may be handy in areas which haven't had their break as yet." he said.
Dr Kadkol said DBA Lillaroi has the best quality profile with the biggest grain of all current varieties, low screenings levels and bright pasta colour. It has been very popular with growers and accounted for 41 per cent of the 2017 GrainCorp receivals.
He said this was a good variety for those seeking to grow high quality, high value grain.
A variety released for adaptation in drier growing regions is also showing promise.
"DBA Bindaroi is a new variety for rainfed cropping," Dr Kadkol said.
"It has shown 5pc higher yield relative to Caparoi in long term NVT (National Variety Trial) data and it produces consistently low screenings, high grain protein and high levels of yellow pigment.
"It performs well under dry conditions and is therefore a good choice this year and is also suited to late planting", Dr Kadkol said.
He said another new variety, DBA Vittaroi, is a good all-rounder, but it is best suited to irrigated cropping because of its lodging resistance.
It is capable of producing high yields and running up impressive protein levels under irrigation, important for obtaining top grade DR1 classification.
This variety has also performed well in South Australia producing high yields and low screenings.
Dr Kadkol said given the dry conditions for many this year, crown rot management would be a key factor in successful durum cropping.
He said there is no getting around durum's historic susceptibility to the soil-borne fungus, but added it is something that could be managed.
"Durum is more susceptible to crown rot than bread wheat.
"There has been some improvement in the new varieties, especially DBA Bindaroi, and with a careful rotation and paddock selection it is possible to manage crown rot successfully."
Dr Kadkol also urged farmers to get soil tests to assist paddock selection.
"Getting a Predicta B test, which can check for crown rot inoculum levels, done is a good investment because it helps avoid planting into high levels of disease.