One of Australia’s first crops of EG Titanium wheat from EPG Seeds has yielded an impressive 5.5 t/ha, despite a wet finish to the season and delays at harvest.
Matthew Brown, who manages Wiltara Farms at Clyde in south Gippsland, grew the 60 hectare crop of EG Titanium last season, as an opportunity crop in a paddock which would normally run Hereford and black Angus cattle as part of the farm’s backgrounding operation.
After selling most of the grain to Graincorp in Geelong, he is planning to sow another crop of EG Titanium wheat this season, aiming to produce lucrative milling grade wheat worth more than $400/tonne.
For the past 15 years, Mr Brown has managed Wiltara Farms on 350 hectares at Clyde, just 50 kilometres east of Melbourne.
He takes six to seven month old weaners from Wiltara’s sister property at Uarbry in central New South Wales to the more favourable conditions at Clyde and grows them out to 400 to 450 kgs for sale into feedlots for finishing.
“After growing forage sorghum over summer 2020, this block was intended for more weaners, but with a change of plans and the season shaping up well for winter, I contacted Connor Steel, our agronomist at Elders Pakenham to discuss our cropping options,’’ Mr Brown said.
“Connor recommended Titanium wheat, a new full season variety from EPG Seeds with good early vigour and excellent disease resistance for southern growing regions, and so with plenty of seed available, we decided to give Titanium a go.”
EG Titanium wheat was released in 2021 by EPG Seeds, after performing well in extensive field trials in central and southern cropping zones over the previous seven years.
“Connor and I worked together to develop the cropping program from pre-plant to harvesting, aiming to maximise yield potential,” Mr Brown said.
“This covered all the essentials including soil testing and determining sowing rates, weed and disease management, and nutrition to maximise yield potential in what turned out to be an above average season where we received 440 mm of growing season rain.”
Preparations began in February, when Mr Brown sprayed out the residue of the summer sorghum crop with Crucial, the new 600 g/L glyphosate formulation from Nufarm, before running the speed discs over the paddocks to incorporate the trash.
Pre-emergence herbicide was applied in early May, before he sowed half the area to EG Titanium at 80 kg/ha and the other half at 120 kg/ha, all with 120 kg/ha of DAP.
“I sowed the crop with a Duncan drill at a narrow five inch spacing and applied liquid fertiliser to mitigate any stress on the young plants and give them a good start,” Mr Brown said.
“The program continued with a broadleaf herbicide at four-leaf stage to control marshmallow and other weeds, as well as two doses of urea and another two liquid fertiliser applications over the growing season.
“I applied the first of the fungicide sprays at head emergence but ended up making two more fungicide applications because of the high prevalence of disease in the moist and humid growing conditions.”
All up, the crop looked good and grew well, receiving 440 mm of rain over the growing season.
The only downside was the wet finish which caused some damage and delayed harvest from December until January.
Mr Brown said that as the farm is only a few kilometres north of Westernport Bay, growing conditions are routinely moist and windy, so lodging is a common problem.
“While it was disappointing to have a wet finish, Connor and I were pleased with the results overall and it was good to have him close by to monitor the crop through the growing season,” Mr Brown said.
“We have learnt a lot, so we’ll fine-tune our approach this season when I plant my second crop of Titanium.”
Connor Steel at Elders Pakenham congratulated Matthew Brown on growing the 5.5 t/ha crop under what turned out to be a challenging finish to the season.
“After such favourable growing conditions, a wet finish is always disappointing, but Matt’s attention to detail throughout the season made a big difference at harvest,” Mr Steel said.
“Staying on top of weeds, nutrition and diseases like stem rust in wet conditions like last year is no easy task, so it was good to see Matt doing all the right things and see the Titanium respond so well in this first commercial crop in southern Victoria.
Col Smith from EPG Seeds described EG Titanium as a good ‘all rounder’, a high yielding, full season variety with excellent resistance to stripe rust and moderate resistance to stem rust and other fungal diseases.
“After six years of trials and field testing, EG Titanium has proven to be adaptable, suitable for early planting and variable conditions, as Matt’s experience has shown,” Mr Smith said.
“It has consistently delivered in the top 3 or 4 per cent of all the wheat varieties tested by EPG Seeds each year, producing good straw strength and achieving milling quality.
“We believe EG Titanium wheat has a big future in higher rainfall zones in central and southern growing regions including Tasmania.”