Inverell growers rely on one-variety sorghum program

Inverell growers rely on one-variety sorghum program

Traditionally growing two to three varieties at “Bannockburn”, the family were concerned about the lingering wet and cold conditions at the start of last season.

“Being in the Inverell area for only five years, we’re still acclimatising to farming in a higher rainfall environment where you get 30 inches (762mm) a year,” Geoff Younger said.

“But we know planting early is crucial for maximising yield potential and for crop maturity before the cooler months impede on harvest.

“We normally like to plant around October 10 but the soil temperature was still well below 16 degrees.”

After consulting with neighbours, McGregor Gourlay agronomist Andrew Morelli and Advanta Seeds territory manager Rob McCarron, they decided that sowing MR-Apollo to their 180ha was the best option for the conditions.

“We’re long-term Buster growers, and for the past couple of seasons have had Taurus in too, but the consensus was that Apollo was the hybrid for this environment.”

They planted from October 14 to 15 2016 into a full soil moisture profile, and with immediate rain along with cool temperatures, they were concerned for crop germination.

Mr Younger said despite hot, dry conditions in most other areas, he believed continual large rain events took the top edge off yield early by waterlogging and later by reducing grain test weight.

“The heavy black soil ran water numerous times so it did it tough for a while but never looked back once it warmed up.

“We were impressed the way it came up under difficult conditions.

“It certainly is a big plant in the vegetative stage, but does not tiller a lot compared to other hybrids.”

They sprayed the crop out on March 29 2017 and began harvesting the sorghum on April 9 2017, which yielded an average of 8t/ha, with the better patches hitting 10t/ha.

Vern, his wife Margaret and son Geoff grow soybeans, grain sorghum, forage sorghum and cowpeas in summer and wheat and forage oats in winter.

They have now learned by their experience of growing a longer season hybrid like MR-Apollo, and would not hesitate to grow it again if similar conditions were experienced, but stressed it needed to be planted by the end of October.

“Depending on how this season shapes up, we’ll probably plant half to MR-Apollo and half to MR-Buster.”

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Image: Inverell grower Vern Younger