In spite of an ordinary winter cereal season,versatile triticale has made the grade in different places all over the state.
At Clovass via Casino, multiple cropper Ron Du Frocq planted AGT Hawkeye variety in mid May, drilling seed direct into a paddock of previously harvested soybeans using a Great Plains triple disc planter.
The winter season was not especially good, with 20mm a month from planting through to September when 48mm landed on good peat soil.
“Here on the coast it takes 10mm of rain to see an effect,” said Mr Du Frocq.
Triticale is the first man-made crop – wheat crossed with rye pollen – developed in Scotland and Germany in the late 1800s. With an aggressive root system that binds lighters soils better than wheat, and a grain well adapted as forage, triticale has a place in agriculture with some describing it as a winter alternative to corn silage.
The hybrid cereal resists rust, handles aluminium in the soil and can survive wet feet better than barley.
Mr Du Frocq finds triticale suits his rotation, and has a ready market not far away at his brother-in-law’s dairy.
According to BGA Northern Agri Services agronomist Dom Hogg, Casino, trials undertaken by in the Tabulam area back in 2012 found the crop to produce up to 30t/ha, wet, in a good season with the variety able to go through to grain if the weather fails to co-operate for cutting silage.
Mr Hogg said carrying Hawkeye Triticale through to grain did result in a long season, and most producers on the North Coast preferred to cut it for silage so they could work their country in readiness for a summer soybean plant.
But on the Upper Clarence around Tabulam that late grain harvest sometimes worked in with a rotation of summer Adzuki beans, planted direct into the winter cereal stubble.
Compared to other Triticale varieties, Hawkeye is an “awne” variety with spikes in the head, which means it doesn’t suit as well for round bale production. However when chopped for pit silage, the head of the plant is smashed to a greater degree making the crop more palatable.
“We find Hawkeye with its leafy nature is ideal for silage,” said Mr Hogg. “We’re not pushing it for round bale production. With megajoules of energy at 9.4 and crude protein at 7.3 it can be regarded as a winter substitute for corn silage, provided protein substitutes are added. It is perfect for the dairy farmer who prepares feed in a mixer wagon.”
The ideal harvest of Hawkeye Triticale for silage should be at the “cheesy dough” stage, just past the milky dough stage, with the crop ideally wind-rowed or swath cut and wilted for half a day before being chopped.
While triticale can be grazed prior to flowering in areas with a longer winter, this does not work very well on the North coast where the cold weather is usually too short to accommodate a longer growing variety.
Triticale suits the Richmond and upper Clarence valleys as it has a tolerance to wet conditions over Barley and to some degree wheat.
The father and son team of Rory and Chris Stonestreet, Blayney, who are gracing the cover of The Land this week, grew a paddock of Endeavour variety triticale, planted in late April.
In a good year, planted in late February, the Stonestreets graze Angus on the crop as many as three times before they lock it up for harvest in January. This year there was no grazing, due to a lack of moisture and the late plant, but the triticale could still produce up to 6t/ha of grain.