Skip to content
menu icon

Engagement in trials creates a cereal contender

Tasmanian mixed-enterprise grower Hamish Yaxley has bolstered his cereal game in the past couple of years.
Photo: Melissa Marino

Sixth-generation Tasmanian mixed-enterprise grower Hamish Yaxley has upped his cereal game in the past couple of years.

Encouraged by a record-breaking 12.84-tonne-per-hectare RGT Cesario wheat yield achieved as part of the 2022 GRDC Hyper Yielding Crops program, he has increased his overall cereal planting by 40 per cent (up to 35ha) and is now experimenting with new cultivars.

In 2023, at his 325ha Don enterprise, near Devonport in north-western Tasmania, he trialled a new slow-maturing winter wheat variety, Longford, bred by AGF seeds.

And he is impressed with the results.

Sown on a 1ha patch among BigRed , Longford has demonstrated some advantages in the cool, high-rainfall environment, particularly around its height and resistance to disease.

Longford was shorter than BigRed – important in the region where fast-growing, taller crops are more prone to lodging.

“Because we are in quite a high-rainfall area (averaging 764 millimetres annually) things do tend to grow quite tall given the opportunity, even with growth regulators,” he says. “So having varieties that are shorter-standing will help prevent them falling over,” Hamish says.

He was also impressed with the new variety’s resistance to disease. “You could see stripe rust creeping into the BigRed , but we couldn't find any in the Longford,” he says. “It was pretty clean.”

Such comparisons, he says, were possible because the two varieties grew in the same area and were subject to the same agronomy. The only difference was the seeding rate which was calculated from the “thousand-grain weight” – 88 kilograms/ha for the smaller-seeded Longford compared to 115kg/ha for BigRed .

“We just treated it all as one paddock with the standard program that we used in our other BigRed paddocks, sprayed at the same growth stages with the same chemistry,” he says.

This included applying prothioconazole (Prosaro) at growth stage (GS) 30, Epoxiconazole + azoxystrobin   (Radial) at GS31 and GS32, bixafen (Aviator Xpro) at GS39 and Prosaro at GS61.

In terms of yields, Longford returned 11.41t/ha and BigRed 11t/ha. These results, he says, are encouraging given the varieties were sown into a former carrot crop that had experienced significant soil compaction as the result of a wet harvest in 2022 using heavy machinery.

With solid yields and impressive resistance to disease, the new variety, Longford, will continue to have a place in his system in 2024.

Hamish says cereals are playing an increasingly important role in his rotation, helping to renovate the soils while providing another income stream.

The breeding of new varieties specifically for cooler, wetter conditions is giving him confidence to include more cereals in the mixed cropping and Angus beef enterprise that he has tripled in size since he took the reins in 2011.

And he says he is keen to support more trials to learn more and unearth the best varieties for the conditions. “It doesn’t matter what commodity we are growing, we’re always looking for better varieties, whether they be spuds, onions, carrots or the cereals,” he says. “We’re always keen to trial something different to try to get an edge somewhere.”

back to top