POSITIVE autumn rain projections are making Australian Grain Technologies’ (AGT) new Catapult wheat variety an ideal choice for early sowing this year.
Northam-based AGT wheat breeder Dion Bennett says the grain has excellent physical characteristics.
“Catapult has earned the AH (Australian Hard) quality classification in Western Australia – the highest delivery grade for wheat in this state,” Dr Bennett said.
“This helps growers to maximise their returns if their grain makes the grade.”
Doodlakine grower Matthew Steber grew Catapult last season and appreciates the earlier sowing opportunity if offers.
“We planted Catapult at the end of the first week of May last year and it yielded very well given the season,” Mr Steber said.
“The quality was also excellent. We were on less than one per cent screenings, protein was fine and all its quality parameters were fine.”
Catapult was developed from AGT’s benchmark variety Mace and shows the same high yield and wide adaptation characteristics, but with longer maturity.
Dr Bennett said Catapult can be viewed as a longer-season Scepter.
With its unique maturity, Catapult takes longer to reach flowering than Scepter, so it can be sown earlier.
That gives growers a very flexible sowing window, including the ability to dry sow Catapult if there is no rain until the first few weeks of May.
However, the variety thrives when planted in late April.
“It’s nice to have a variety we can utilise for Anzac Day sowing,” Mr Steber said.
“It gives you a good three weeks, whereas if you plant Scepter on 10 May then that’s still a bit too early.
“We have a large program and having a variety that’s suited to planting at the end of April or in the first weeks of May means my wheat sowing window can be longer.”
Mr Steber last year planted one tonne of Catapult on 40 hectares to bulk up seed supplies for his local distributor.
He harvested 73t and has reserved 25t to plant this season.
Further south, Warakirri Cropping’s Con Murphy also planted Catapult last season, sowing 25 hectares of the new variety at Condingup, east of Esperance.
“We’re in a high-rainfall area and we planted it into moisture on 14 May, which is pretty late for us,” Mr Murphy said.
“Its vigour from the start was really good. It came out of the ground quickly and it never looked back.”
Mr Murphy was impressed by Catapult’s performance, even though yields were down.
“We had a pretty dry season so the grain was a little bit lighter than I’d like but the yield was good.”
“Catapult out-yielded Scepter by 10 per cent on this farm.”
Mr Murphy plans to sow 300ha of Catapult this year.
“If it performs well across that area, then we’ll probably make it a larger proportion of our program – up to 2000ha worth.”
“It is definitely something to look at.”
Commercial supplies of Catapult seed are available through local AGT affiliates.
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