Seed at the optimum sowing date for growing season length and variety maturity to maximise yield and reduce the risk of downgrading the quality of both grain and hay.
In most regions of Western Australia, the ideal time to flower (flowering window) is in September. For areas around and north of the Great Eastern Highway (Beverley, Wongan Hills and Chapman Valley), the flowering window is the whole of September. For the Great Southern (Katanning, Mt Barker and Newdegate), the flowering window ranges from mid September to early October.
Flowering too early will mean maximum growth and yield will not be achieved and risk of frost damage and weather staining is increased. Flower too late increases the risk of running out of soil moisture and filling grain at higher than optimum temperatures leading to lower yields and higher screenings.
Sowing as early as possible with a later maturing variety will:
- Give the crop the opportunity to give the highest possible yield.
- Reduce grain protein content - one month delay in sowing date can increase protein by about 1%.
- Increase the severity of foliar diseases - choose varieties with good disease resistance ratings.
- Produce taller crops in good growing condition which may lodge.
Early sowing (May) results in higher hay yields compared to late (June) sowing, however if early maturing varieties are sown there is a greater risk of rainfall on the cut hay.
Sowing late in the program with an early maturing variety:
- Will give lower yields with higher protein because flower and grain fill will be later into spring when miosture is likely to be limiting and temperatures high.
- Foliar diseases, lodging and shedding will be less severe.
- Hay quality will be reduced.