Emerald Hill growers optimistic about new sorghum varieties

Emerald Hill growers optimistic about new sorghum varieties

May 22, 2020

Emerald Hill grower Peter Loveridge is all about trying new things on farm. Mr Loveridge, who farms with his parents Trevor and Colleen and sister Lucy, said his latest experimentation has been with sorghum varieties.

“We used to grow MR-Buster for years and it served us well, then we moved to MR-Taurus a few years back,” he said. 

“For the 2019-20 season, our agronomist Andrew Ceeney suggested we try MR-Bazley and Sentinel.

“We have to look forward at these new varieties.  It’s worth seeing what works and what might give you a yield advantage.”

Mr Loveridge said the plan was to grow 38ha of sorghum and 44ha of cotton on paddocks serviced by two new lateral irrigators, but the cotton was destroyed.

“Our cotton was looking good until November 30 when the entire crop was hailed out. 

“It was too late to replant cotton, so we decided to go all sorghum.”

Mr Loveridge prepared the area by applying 20 cubic metres per hectare of chicken manure and doing some pre-watering.

“We used a lot of manure so it would set the area up for years to come and the pre-irrigation helped build the moisture profile.”

He then applied 300kg/ha of urea and 10L/ha of Starter Z before sowing 38ha of Sentinel on December 7 and 44ha of MR-Bazley five days later.

“We chose the Sentinel because it can aim for top end yields under irrigation and it also has the benefit of being imidazolinone-tolerant, so we can use group B chemistry to tidy up the barnyard grass in-crop. It was worth doing.  It tidied up the area nicely. The MR-Bazley being a tough variety also spreads the risk a little.”

Mr Loveridge made six passes with the laterals, ranging from 26mm to 53mm per application. Good rain from February onwards meant he could switch off the tap. Harvest at the Emerald Hill property began on April 25, with Sentinel yielding an average of 9.7t/ha and MR-Bazley producing 9.5t/ha when it came off three days later. In addition to the summer crop change, the family, who grow wheat, barley and chickpeas in winter, are looking to replace their main wheat variety Spitfire with something newer.

“Spitfire’s been our go-to for many, many years, but Hellfire looks to out yield it significantly, so we’ll need to investigate it too.

‘It’s all about getting the most out of the latest technology, and if something better comes along, we want to trial it.”

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