National Variety Trials gain sorghum

Sorghum becomes first summer crop evaluated through the GRDC's National Variety Trials program

National Variety Trials

ON TRIAL: NVT sorghum trials at Mullaley, NSW. Photo: Jan Edwards

ON TRIAL: NVT sorghum trials at Mullaley, NSW. Photo: Jan Edwards

Aa

The long-running National Variety Trials program marked two significant changes in 2018.

Aa

The long-running National Variety Trials (NVT) program marked two significant changes in 2018 as it expanded to include its first summer crop sorghum and became fully managed by GRDC.

The inclusion of sorghum in the NVT program is a big step forward for cropping in the northern region because it gives growers and advisers the ability to compare results for commercial lines and ensure independent evaluation data is available for a variety at the time of its release, says Tom Giles, GRDC Senior Manager Enabling Technologies.

Outcomes and results from this first year have helped us refine program operations in terms of specific trial protocols and number and positioning of sites per production zone for the 2018-19 growing season onwards, Mr Giles said.

It will also give us a good foundational dataset to generate the robust independent information growers have long been calling for in key sorghum production areas.

NVT is the biggest independent trials in the world.

Sorghum NVT trials were sown at 19 sites across northern NSW and southern and central Queensland in 2017-18. The focus of stage one of the trials was to refine program design and build a robust dataset.

The NVT program previously included 10 broadacre crops wheat, barley, oats, triticale, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, lentils, field peas and lupins.

Although set up by GRDC in 2005, NVTs administration and day-to-day management had been separate to this point. The program is now managed in GRDC.

While the size of the program has evolved since 2005, the underlying principles remain the same: to generate independent information for growers about newly-released varieties crops relative to the current commercial varieties grown in their area.

Each year NVT trials are conducted on about 300 properties across Australia. The number of trials reported increased to 653 in 2011, of which 91.7 per cent were published, compared to only 82.3 per cent in 2005. This difference reflects the seasonal conditions experienced in these years.

In addition to collecting yield, quality and agronomic data for each nomination, trial service providers record soil and rainfall data, minimum air temperatures, dates of sowing and harvest, fertiliser and chemical inputs and rotation information.

Sorghum trials

The sorghum trials are evaluating 24 varieties supplied by Advanta (Pacific) Seeds, Elders, Heritage Seeds, Nuseed, Pioneer, SV Genetics Pty Ltd and Radicle Seeds.

Outcomes and results from the first year helped GRDC refine program operations in terms of specific trial protocols and number and positioning of sites per production zone for the 2018-19 growing season onwards.

It also gave the industry a good foundational dataset to generate the robust independent information growers have long been calling for in key sorghum production areas.

The inclusion of sorghum in the NVT program is a big step forward for cropping in the northern region because it gives growers and advisers the ability to compare results for commercial lines and ensure independent evaluation data is available for a variety at the time of its release. - GRDC Senior Manager Enabling Technologies Tom Giles

The NVT results will also assist breeding programs by helping to validate and benchmark performance of new varieties across a wider range of production zones.

Sorghum is the most profitable crop in the rotation for some growers in Queensland and northern NSW and NVT results will help direct breeding programs and growers to varieties that can expand the crops area and profitability.

Relative to other crop options, sorghum can cope with challenging conditions like heat and moisture stress and its inclusion in the NVT will provide guidance to established growers, as well as those wishing to grow it in tougher production zones.

Three service providers are overseeing the trials are Eurofins in Central Queensland, Kalyx on the Darling Downs of southern Queensland and north-east and north-west NSW, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries on the Liverpool Plains.

The inclusion of sorghum in the NVT program is considered a big step forward for cropping in the northern region as it will give growers and advisers the ability to compare results for commercial lines and ensure independent evaluation data is available for a variety at the time of its release.

Seed companies have welcomed the inclusion of sorghum in the NVT, but will to continue their own trials as part of their normal breeding and marketing activities.

The release of sorghum NVT results can be expected once two seasons of data have been collected and analysed.

Aa