Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Raj Malik (right), Katanning, demonstrated the weed competetiveness of barley varieties to growers John Hicks (left), Pingrup and Rob Ladyman, West Katanning.IN a bid to stamp out weeds Great Southern growers have been encouraged to size up barley varieties as a planting option for 2013/14.
At last Thursday’s Great Southern Agricultural Research Institute Field Day at Katanning, Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Raj Malik walked growers through a number of on-site barley trials set up to determine which barley varieties better outperformed grass weeds, namely ryegrass.
Although it was still too early in the season to determine any final outcomes, Mr Malik said the trials had demonstrated some very promising indicators which would be discussed at a supply chain level with the Grain Industry Association of WA Barley Council, Barley Australia and a number of barley breeders to assist with decisions on future variety releases for WA growers.
The Katanning paddock trials aimed to discover whether varieties under Barley Australia accreditation differed in their competitive ability against rigid ryegrass relative to Baudin, Buloke and Vlamingh and what kind of impact the weed competition had on the crop’s grain quality.
Similar research had already been done by a number of WA barley researchers during the last five years but conflicting research results throughout the Wheatbelt convinced DAFWA Katanning researchers it was time to have another look.
Mr Malik said in 2009 Paynter and Hills et al. recorded results which demonstrated a general trend of reduced ryegrass biomass and fewer ryegrass tillers in the more competitive varieties Baudin, Flagship and Hamelin than in the less competitive varieties Buloke, Gairdner and Vlamingh.
But in 2010 Hashem et al. found the variety Roe to be more competitive than Baudin and opposite to Paynter and Hills’ (2009) results, Buloke was found to be more competitive than Baudin.
“We are starting the research again with a localised perspective,” Mr Malik said.
“A number of new varieties have also been released into the market since then which need to be taken into consideration.”
He said the objective of the Katanning trial was to compare the agronomic performance of 12 barley varieties when sown in the presence of three levels of rigid rygrass competition in a no-till, stubble retained system.
“Competitive ability will continue to be measured in two ways,” Mr Malik said.
“We’ll look at the yield loss due to competition from the ryegrass and we’ll look at the ryegrass tiller numbers in the plots sown with ryegrass.”
Mr Malik went on to say crop competition was an integral component of weed management in the Great Southern and could be achieved by increasing the hectares sown to competitive crops, sowing more competitive varieties and sowing varieties at a higher seeding rate.
“Barley is generally regarded as being more competitive against weeds than wheat due to the differences in early vigour both above and below the ground,” he said.
“But due to the differences in canopy structure not all varieties are equal when it comes to competing with weeds.
“Barley varieties might differ in their early growth habits because they can be prostrate, semi-erect or erect.
“A plant’s height at maturity, leaf angle and shape and maturity group also have a role to play.”
Mr Malik said within the same maturity group differences in canopy structure might also influence above ground weed competitiveness through differences in light interception and shading.
He had no inclination as to which varieties which outperform ryegrass the best but said it would be very useful information to have, especially when evaluating Commander, Grange, Henley, Skipper, Flinders and Wimmera which hadn’t been evaluated for weed competition before.
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