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Winning cereals shine in season dogged by grey skies and disease

John Heardʼs RGT Accroc (PBR) crop yielded more than 10 per cent above its estimated yield potential on his Cressy, Tasmania, farm in 2022.
Photo: Southern Farming Systems

Thirteen Australian grain growers earned top honours in the 2022 GRDC Hyper Yielding Crops awards, a project focused on helping growers to close the gap between actual and estimated cereal grain yield potential.

The awards are part of GRDC’s Hyper Yielding Crops initiative, led by Field Applied Research (FAR) Australia, which spans the high-rainfall areas of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, southern New South Wales and Western Australia.

Wheat was the focus of the 2020 and 2021 awards, but barley was added to the agronomic benchmarking program in 2022 for growers in WA, SA and Victoria.

The awards recognise the growers who produce the highest yield and the highest yield based on how close crops came to their estimated yield potential.

Bruce McLean's award winning crop.

Bruce McLeanʼs 9.6t/ha Anapurna wheat crop exceeded its estimated 9.3t/ha yield potential.

Yield potentials were estimated using models that account for three key environmental drivers, namely water, temperature and radiation.

Participants receive a comprehensive agronomy report, allowing them to compare the results of their agronomic decisions with others in their region and nationally.

GRDC investment manager Courtney Peirce says the awards were set up to encourage those interested in increasing their grain production to submit a paddock of wheat or barley for agronomic benchmarking.

“I commend the growers who contributed a season’s worth of data for agronomy benchmarking in 2022, and I hope the insights assist in refining your agronomic management decisions going forward.”

GRDC Hyper Yielding Crops project lead Nick Poole of FAR Australia, and national extension coordinator Jon Midwood from TechCrop Services, announced the winners in July and August.

Tasmanian champions

A table showing all the winners and the awards they earned. Also includes a national ranking according to outright yield and yield as a percentage of potential yield.

Hamish Yaxley, from Devonport in Tasmania, earned the award for the highest-yielding wheat crop in Tasmania with a 12.8 tonne per hectare paddock of RGT Cesario (Table 1). It was also the highest-yielding wheat crop among the 2022 cohort.

John Heard of Cressy won the Tasmanian award for the highest percentage of estimated yield potential with an RGT Accroc crop. His crop yielded 12t/ha, almost 11 per cent above the paddock’s 10.9t/ha estimated yield potential. Accordingly, the paddock placed first nationally among the 2022 wheat cohort for closing the yield gap.

A yellow crop of RGT Cesario wheat, tightly packed together.

Tasmanian grower Hamish Yaxley grew an RGT Cesario crop that yielded 12.8t/ha on his Devonport farm.

Victorian winners

Ben Findlay won the award for the highest wheat yield in southern Victoria. His RGT Cesario crop grown near Ascot yielded 10.6t/ha, 86.8 per cent of the crop’s 12.2t/ha estimated yield potential. The effort also earned Ben the southern Victorian Hyper Yielding Crops award for the highest percentage of estimated yield potential.

Ed Weatherly from Streatham grew Victoria’s highest-yielding barley crop, averaging 7.5t/ha of RGT Planet. The crop was estimated to yield 10.7t/ha, earning Ed the Victorian award for the highest barley yield as a percentage of yield potential.

WA front-runners

Taking out two awards for producing the highest wheat and barley yields in WA was Perillup grower Kieran Allison.

Mr Allison’s award-winning DS Bennett wheat crop yielded 8t/ha, while his award-winning RGT Planet barley crop yielded 8.9t/ha.

Kieran Allison's award-winning crop pictured before harvest when it is golden and ripe. The DS Bennett crop is so heavy it is lodging.

Kieran Allison's 2022 wheat crop at Perillup, Western Australia. Photo: Dan Fay

Scotts Brook grower Ben Webb earned the highest WA wheat yield award as a percentage of yield potential for a 6.5t/ha crop of RockStar. It was estimated to yield 8.2t/ha.

Charles Caldwell, also from Scotts Brook in southern WA, won the category for highest barley yield as a percentage of yield potential with a 7.8t/ha crop of RGT Planet. It was estimated to yield 9.2t/ha.

SA Victors

Sam Ballantyne produced the highest wheat yield in SA with an Anapurna crop that yielded 10.6t/ha on average near Glenroy. His crop exceeded its estimated potential yield of 10.3t/ha.

Bruce McLean, also from Glenroy, won the SA award for the highest wheat yield based on the percentage of estimated yield potential. His 9.6t/ha Anapurna wheat crop exceeded its estimated 9.3t/ha yield potential.

For barley, James Gilbertson and his family, near Hatherleigh, won SA’s highest barley yield award with an RGT Planet crop that produced 8.1t/ha of grain. The paddock’s yield potential was estimated at 9.9t/ha.

James Gilbertson's ripe barley crop.

James Gilbertson and family's 2022 RGT Planet barley entry yielded 8.1t/ha of grain near Hatherleigh, SA. Photo: Jen Lillecrapp

Not far from Maaoupe, Jack Gartner and his family earned the SA award for the highest barley yield as a percentage of estimated yield potential. The family’s RGT Planet crop yielded 7.5t/ha. It had a potential of 9.1t/ha.

NSW leaders

Tim Stivens, Junee, NSW, earned the 2022 award for the highest yield in the southern NSW/northern Victoria category. His RockStar crop yielded 6.9t/ha, which was 66.3 per cent of its estimated 10.4t/ha yield potential.

Not far from the NSW–Victorian border, Cameron Sandral, Savernake, earned the highest wheat yield as a percentage of yield potential. Mr Sandral’s Scepter crop yielded 6.2t/ha, 67.3 per cent of its 9.2t/ha estimated yield potential.

Agronmy skills lifted

Mr Poole says GRDC’s Hyper Yielding Crops awards have demonstrated to growers nationally the value of raising the bar of achievable cereal yields.

“These dedicated growers have demonstrated exceptional agronomic skills in a year dogged by cloudy days, waterlogging and heavy disease pressure,” he says.

“Nonetheless, the decisions these growers made resulted in remarkable grain yields.

“I congratulate all the winners for their outstanding achievements.”

More information: Nick Poole,

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