Lupin Harvest at maturity can help reduce grain losses

Western Australian growers are being urged to harvest lupin crops as soon as they ripen to avoid grain losses from seed shedding and pod drop.

Pod drop, seed shedding, shattering of mature grain and potential for reduced seed germination (if there is rainfall after the crop matures) are key issues to be considered at this time of year in regards to lupin harvest.

By harvesting the crop when it’s ripe it can help to lower the risks of yield losses and lower grain quality stemming from these problems.

Trials completed in WA’s northern grainbelt in 2017, with GRDC investment, found that by delaying harvest weeks after crop maturity lowered average lupin yields by six per cent.

If the gap stretched out to six weeks after crop maturity, average yields were 15 per cent less than the crops harvested at maturity.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) research officer Martin Harries led this research and said the extent of yield loss if the harvest was delayed was similar for all six lupin varieties tested, including the latest released lines.

The results from research

He said, “Many WA growers are adding lupins back into their rotations and to help with decision making, we need to generate more information about the effects of delaying harvest on yield losses and potential grain damage, especially if there is rainfall after the crop has matured.”

Harries continues to add, “The best harvesting window for lupin across WA’s grainbelt is typically within three weeks of crop maturity and as soon as grain moisture content reaches 14pc, which is the maximum allowable moisture level to meet CH Group receival standards. Delaying harvest can cause seed and pods to drop and/or lead to brittle grain that is susceptible to cracking and splitting.”

Six lupin varieties at three harvest times, ranging from crop maturity to six weeks after maturity, were investigated last year by DPIRD at Eradu, near Geraldton.

Overall, average yields of the newer varieties across all harvest times were up to 0.5 tonnes per hectare (26pc) higher than the 2.5t/ha average yield across all varieties and harvest times.

A two-week delay in harvest after crop maturity resulted in an average of 0.04t/ha (6pc yield loss across all varieties).

Delaying harvest by six weeks after the crop ripened caused a greater drop of 0.3t/ha (15pc in average yields).

Mr Harries explained, “All varieties had average yield losses between 12 and 15pc if the harvest was delayed after the crop ripened, compared to if they had been harvested at maturity.”

Source: Farm Weekly

WA could be on track for record-breaking crop production

WA looks to be on track for record-breaking harvest if current weather conditions across much of the grainbelt continue.

First crop production estimates were recently released by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) for 2018 – WA is predicted to produce more than 15.5 million tonnes of grain and 9.9mt of wheat.

This would leave Western Australia accounting for almost half of the total national wheat crop as the Eastern States continue to go through a severe drought.

James Maxwell, Australian Crop Forecasters analyst, had this to say:

“The big drop has obviously come in Queensland and New South Wales – in Queensland we’ve only got half a million tonnes while New South Wales is at 3.4mt and that has potential to drop further. WA is looking very close, if not more than half of the wheat crop at the moment.”

WA looks set to also have solid seasons with barley and canola – the only state headed for an above-average season.

Steady rain and high commodity prices have set up WA for a successful year but GIWA report author Michael Lamond warns that frost and heat stress could impact how the season played out.

“The growing season for the majority of the State has been near perfect so fat with crops ahead of where they would normally be with a late May break to the season.” Mr Lamond said.

He continues:

“The only downside to this may be the susceptibility to heat stress if crops are exposed to sudden hot weather… The frost risk to crops is generally considered to be less than it was in 2016 – even though crops have moved along quickly this year, they are still behind in growth stage to date from where they were in 2016.”

Kwinana leading the way

In terms of production, Kwinana is predicted to produce more than 8.1mt of grain this season – a quarter of the national wheat crop.

GIWA report that Kwinana crop growth was exceptional even with late May break – cereals being the standout crop.

Most of the zone has benefited from steady rainfall and warm temperatures. Although some areas are suffering from sclerotinia in canola and waterlogged paddocks, most areas are on track for an above-average season.

2018 crop production estimates

Source: Farm Weekly

Mr Lamond spoke about low crop growth areas:

“The very poor area of crop growth are now confined to the eastern portions of the (Southern Albany) zone”.

The Esperance zone has experienced a change of gears compared to previous record-breaking seasons and was “shaping up for just an average year”.

Overall, “Most growers are now confident close to average yields will be achieved if the season does not cut out early.