Author: Natalie Lee, GRDC

Date: 18th April, 2019


The National Variety Trials (NVT) program is off to an early start in Western Australia with all wheat crops seeded as part of ‘early break’ trials expected to emerge by Anzac Day.

These Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) NVT trials will provide wheat growers with information about which varieties perform best for yield, grain quality and disease ratings when planted very early in the season.

GRDC manager NVT – west, Peter Bird, said the early break trials had been added to the main suite of WA NVT trials in 2017 in response to growers requiring information about which wheat varieties to grow in order to capitalise on early seeding opportunities.

“These early break trials complement the main series of NVT trials that are seeded around the ideal seeding window in May, reflecting when most of the WA wheat crop is seeded by grain growers,” he said.

“The new series of trials were introduced because growers, often in lower rainfall areas, sometimes have early sowing opportunities in April but might not receive further rainfall until late May or June.

“Wheat varieties that perform well from April sowings are often different to those that produce good results when seeded in May.

“The trials also provide wheat breeding companies with an opportunity to fine-tune the breeding of varieties that suit April seeding dates.”

Ten early break trials, assessing more than 20 near-release and released long-season wheat varieties, are being conducted at sites across the WA grainbelt, and not just in lower rainfall areas.

Mr Bird said some of the early break wheat trial sites would, if necessary, be watered by mid-April so that crop emergence was achieved on all sites by Anzac Day (April 25).

“Wheat crops had already emerged by mid-April at the Kojonup, South Stirling and Moorine Rock sites, where early rainfall had allowed these trials to be seeded in early April,” he said.

“Following harvesting and analysis at the end of the season, results from the 2019 early break trials will be available on the GRDC NVT website at by searching the ‘Find Trial Results’ box.

The WA NVT program in 2019 comprises more than 170 trials at more than 60 locations and evaluate wheat, barley, oats, canola, lupin, chickpea, field pea and sorghum. Many locations are at grower group trial sites to better enable growers to view the trials.

The largest co-ordinated field trial network of its kind in the world, NVT is a 100 per cent GRDC investment that is fully administered by the GRDC on behalf of Australian grain growers and the Australian Government.

A national program of comparative crop variety testing with standardised trial management, data generation, collection and dissemination, NVT seeks to assist growers to optimise the profitability of their farming systems through choosing the most appropriate varieties for their growing environments.

Mr Bird, who has more than 20 years of experience in grain crop agronomy, trial management and product development, is one of a team of dedicated GRDC NVT staff that has now been appointed – enhancing co-ordination of trials and extending NVT’s reach and presence in the regions. His contact details and those of other staff can be found on the NVT Online website.

“My aim is for growers to have access the best possible data about variety choice and to make sure the trials are managed to the highest standard and are in line with changing crop agronomy practices,” he said.

“To achieve this aim, I work closely with grower groups, trial service providers, plant breeding companies, agronomists and advisers.”

To further support growers and advisers, the GRDC has produced new instructional videos on ‘how to navigate NVT’s website’ and ‘how to interpret NVT data (long-term yield results) using the NVT website’. The videos can be viewed via the GRDC’s YouTube channel

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