Managing Bennett Milling Wheat

Matt McRae, a specialist in Central Tablelands agronomy solutions has grown S&W Seed Company Australia’s Bennett Milling Wheat over several seasons as a part of his mixed farming operations at Millthorpe near Orange in NSW.

Last season that experience paid dividends. “As you know the Bennett placed second in the inaugural 2020 Carcoar crop competition,” Mr. McRae commented, “the judged yield estimate was 7.6 tonne per hectare. When we got the header in, about 250 tonnes of 11.6 percent protein grain was harvested from the 34 hectare paddock”.

Backing up this success, Mr. McRae has achieved second place in the 2021 competition with an estimated seven tonnes per hectare yield potential. The winning paddock in the 2021 Carcoar Crop competition was also Bennett, with an estimated yield potential of 7.8 tonnes per hectare.

bennet australian wheat

Well managed Bennett standing despite the seasonal conditions in NSW

Mr. McRae’s Bennett was direct drilled on the 10th of April into a paddock fallowed out of pasture. “It was wet; we had about 690mm in the fallow with 233mm in March before sowing. Bennett went in at 100 kilograms per hectare with 120 kilograms per hectare of fungicide treated starter fertilizer to give it early season protection,” Mr McRae noted. Nitrogen as Urea was applied in June.

Managing the disease pressure in the crop required the application of aerial fungicides, one was applied in early September and a second in late October. “Ideally, I would have grazed the Bennett before Z30, (first node), but the paddock conditions were very wet, and I would have had both animal and crop issues. Defoliation by grazing would have helped the disease management by reducing canopy density. The dense canopy certainly contributed to the rapid disease build-up when combined with the wet conditions requiring the fungicides in spring,” remarked Mr. McRae.

The mild spring has drawn out the maturation of the paddock, so a final yield is not known at this stage. “No, it’s not ready yet. There’s been more than 900 millimetres of in-crop rainfall so far so it’s not in any hurry to finish,” stated Mr. McRae. “The crop is standing up quite well despite significant wind and rainfall during grain fill. The headlands are lying over in spots, but I think that’s a good indicator that the balance between nutrition, plant density, time of sowing and disease pressure this season is about right.”

Matt McRae is the principal of McRae Ag Solutions, based at Millthorpe, near Orange NSW. His farming operation, between Millthorpe and Blainey is mixed farming including cattle and sheep, cropping and hay-making

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