Durum favours soil pH6-plus

Durum wheat favours soils of pH 6-plus

Cropping
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While northern black soils favour durum wheat production of up to 300,000 tonnes in normal seasons, some is also grown in the MIA and Riverina producing upwards of 50,000t.

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John Arthur Coltman, Gururaj Kadkol and Greg Coltman in a 2016 crop of DBA Lillaroi on the Coltmans Panhandle, near Tubbul. Photo. Nicole Baxter, GRDC GroundCover.

John Arthur Coltman, Gururaj Kadkol and Greg Coltman in a 2016 crop of DBA Lillaroi on the Coltmans Panhandle, near Tubbul. Photo. Nicole Baxter, GRDC GroundCover.

DURUM wheat growing doesn't have a large fan club, but devotees enjoy that extra premium the pasta wheat offers.

Better suited to the higher moisture retaining black soils with high pH levels, northern cropping regions fit well with values upwards of level 7.

Southern soils mainly in the Murrumbidgee/Riverina could have lower pH levels but still may be durum growing if pH levels are 6 and above.

Durum Breeding Australia's northern node leader and durum breeder, Dr Gururaj Kadkol based at the Tamworth Agricultural Institute, said in southern NSW durum was grown mainly in Hillston, Coleambally, Darlington Point and Hay regions.

"In these regions durum is grown as an irrigated crop regularly yielding around eight to 10 tonnes per hectare," he said.

Dryland crops have been successfully grown south of Parkes and in Bribbaree areas in 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Greg Coltman and his son, John Arthur, grew DBA Lillaroi in 2016 on Panhandle, near Tubbul 30 km west of Young which yielded 5t/ha and achieved DR1 quality.

"If soil pH values are below level 6 growers need to be a little careful," Dr Kadkol said.

"You should choose your best paddocks for growing durum and also conduct soil tests as part of your cropping program with crop rotations.

"With durum nitrogen management is quite important to achieve 13 per cent grain protein and 80pc hard vitreous kernels (HVK) for DR1 classification at the silo, but there is a tendency to avoid the expense of soil testing.

However, many committed durum growers really know their paddocks and know durum sufficiently well that if late winter/spring is wet, they'll put on more nitrogen."

NSW durum production in a normal season is around 350,000t, Dr Kadkol said.

On average, annually, 200,000t is exported from Newcastle to North African countries and Europe, and this durum segregation is considered world class for quality.

"In normal seasons in the south production is in the vicinity of 50,000t to 60,000t while the north is around 300,000t," he said.

"While high-yielding DBA Bindaroi variety was released in 2017, it hasn't been until this year that growers have taken it up.

"Distributed through Seednet, the 2017 and 2018 seasons were very dry with virtually no crop and seed remaining on the shelf.

"However, this year many growers are taking up the variety in a big way."

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