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Agriculture on the Wimmera Plains

Varieties and Cultivars

The following is a selection of crops grown for grain production.  Generally all of the grain that is produced can fit into the categories of cereals, pulses or oilseeds.  Listed below is each category, type of crop and the varieties that we grow commercially.  The symbol denotes that a Plant Breeder Rights applies for that cultivar.

Cereals (Poaceae)

Cereals are related to grasses and their grain is used extensively for human consumption and stockfeed, although grazing and hay production is also important. The cereals grown in the Wimmera include wheat, barley, oats and triticale. They are sown after the first Autumn rains, usually in May or early June. Cereals need to flower in late October, which is late enough to avoid the risk of frost yet early enough to avoid the onset of summer drought. They turn golden brown when ready for harvesting in December.

Barley (Hordeum vulgare)

The majority of Wimmera barley is of malting quality and is used for beer making. However, the supply of grain for stockfeed (especially downgraded grain) is important. Barley looks very similar in the paddock to wheat. It also has awns (strong bristles on the part of the flower that protects the seed, making the flower or seed head look hairy) but is a lighter yellow-green in colour and when the heads begin to ripen the stem bends just below the head, they "nod" and the awns turn yellow.

Gairdner - Malt barley
Gairdner is a moderately late maturing, semi-dwarf variety with grain size superior to Franklin. Gairdner also has good head retention. Although Gairdner is a semi-dwarf variety, it can be quite tall under favourable conditions where it may lodge. In drier areas, Gairdner should be sown in May, as late sowing may result in high screenings. The variety is inherently low in grain protein (0.7% lower than Schooner) and appropriate nitrogen management is essential to avoid excessively low protein levels. Gairdner is very susceptible to spot form of net blotch and growers concerned about this disease should avoid this variety. Gairdner has good resistance to the net form of net blotch and powdery mildew, however, Gairdner is now considered susceptible to scald.

WI3408 - Trial barley
An advanced line aimed at the export malt industry that yields like Gairdner but has better disease ratings.

VB0105 - Trial barley
Another advanced line also aimed at the export malt industry.  It yields better than Gairdner in low rainfall areas but has some lower disease ratings than WI3408.

Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Is used for pan and flat breads, noodles, cakes and biscuits; the starch and gluten is used for confectionery, gums and thickeners in a range of food products. About 80 per cent of Australia's wheat production is exported to Asia and the Middle East, the remainder is used domestically. Wheat is also used as a stockfeed, either grown specifically or downgraded on quality from the human consumption market. All wheat varieties grown since the early eighties have awns (strong bristles on the part of the flower that protects the seed) making the heads of either white or brown straw varieties look hairy.

Yitpi - Bread wheat
AH quality with resistance and tolerance to CCN. Is rated MR-MS for stripe rust and is susceptible to stem rust and moderately susceptible to leaf rust. Boron tolerant, large grain and low screenings. Yitpi is dominating production in low rainfall areas of Victoria, due to its high yields and improved grain quality.

Pulses (Fabaceae)

Pulses are edible legume crops such as peas, faba beans, chickpeas and lentils. These are sown in early May through to July, and flower in late September/early October. They are direct-headed (harvested) in December/early January.

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)

Are used for human consumption, mainly in Mediterranean-style cooking, including hommos and dips. They are the last of the crops to mature and are green when everything else is drying off. In the paddock, they look bluer than lentils or peas and are smaller leafed than faba beans. There are two types of chickpeas; kabuli with white flowers and large seeds, and desi with blue flowers and small seeds. They are short, well branched and have fat pods containing one or two seeds. They are harvested in late-December early January.

FLIP94-508C - Desi
Has excellent ascochyta blight resistance and will require less fungicide applications than Howzat. It has dark brown seed similar to Tyson but has been lower yielding than ICCV96836 and Howzat.

Susceptible to ascochyta blight, but less so than other current varieties. Howzat has moderate early vigour. Initially prostrate rather than erect, but standing ability improves towards maturity. Early flowering with brown grain of medium size. Howzat is less susceptible to botrytis grey mould than most current varieties. Fungicides will still be required but the risk of failure will be significantly reduced compared to current varieties.

Kaniva - Kabuli
Very susceptible to ascochyta blight. Kaniva has been the main kabuli variety grown in south-east Australia. It can be very profitable despite requiring regular fungicide sprays. It has poorer standing ability than most varieties.

Lentils (Lens culinaris)

Come in both red and green lentils are grown in the Wimmera. They are used for human consumption; green lentils are used whole and red lentils are split. The crop is one of the shortest crops grown; only averaging 20 to 30 cm in height. The tiny white and blue flowers are grouped along the branches and the red or brown seeds form in tiny, flat, pea-like pods which turn brown as they ripen. They are very even in height.

Aldinga - Red Lentil
A mid season variety that has a large seed with a pale seed coat. Aldinga is prone to lodging and is moderately resistant to ascochyta blight and moderately susceptible to botrytis grey mould.

Oilseeds (Asteraceae & Brassicaeae)

Oilseed crops are grown for their oil which can be used for liquid or spray oils, margarine, condiments and in food processing, industrial oils or for biofumigation. After the oil is removed, the remaining meal can be used for stockfeed. They include canola, mustard, safflower and linseed.

Safflower (Carthamus tintorius)

Another oilseed crop with yellow flowers but flowering much later than canola. Related to thistles, it is mainly an 'opportunity' crop following a wet winter. The oil is used for cooking and industrial oils. Safflower grows 40 to 80 cm high depending on the season.

Sironaria - Linoleic / Birdseed
Safflower production in Australia commenced in the 1950ís with a disease prone cultivar (Gila) that was introduced from Arizona. The CSIRO commenced a safflower breeding program in 1975 and released Sironaria with good disease resistance in 1987. Sironaria, a birdseed/linoleic oil cultivar, has become the most widely grown cultivar in Australia. Sironaria is white hulled and predominately sold to the volatile birdseed markets while its oil is not suitable for the expanding oil markets. 


Most of this information is from the Department of Primary Industries Victoria Crop Management and Crop Identification resources.



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