The National Variety Trials (NVT) program is off to a "better than anticipated" start in parts of Queensland and New South Wales thanks to early planting rain.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) NVT program is designed to provide growers with information about which varieties perform best for yield, grain quality and disease ratings in various geographic locations.
GRDC Officer NVT - North, Laurie Fitzgerald, said six weeks ago the outlook was all "doom and gloom" but rain in central and western QLD, and areas of central NSW, had significantly altered the situation.
"I am now cautiously optimistic about the winter season. While things still need to get better in many areas, we are off to a very reasonable start with our NVT program with trials planted into excellent or good moisture in many of our major production regions," he said.
"All our trial sites in Central Queensland have been planted into very good conditions, trials are also in the ground in western QLD and areas of central NSW have been sown into reasonable moisture. But we still need planting rain to get northern NSW and southern QLD plots underway."
In summary, early and main season wheat, along with barley and chickpeas have been planted in Central Queensland at sites in the Capella, Kilcummin, Jambin, Duaringa and Springsure regions. In western Queensland, early and main season wheat are in the ground at Dulacca, Surat and Roma.
Canola and early season wheat have also been planted in the Gilgandra, Coonamble and Trangie areas of central NSW. While early and long season wheat variety trials are in at North Star, Coolah and Somerton.
"However, we still have a significant number of trial sites that are yet to be planted in northern NSW and southern QLD, where we are still waiting on rain," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"I realise it is early days, but we are already in a better situation than we were last winter where a number of trial sites didn't get planted because of the drought and many of those that did were later abandoned because of dry conditions.
"For example, in 2018 we had nine wheat trials in south west Queensland; three didn't get planted because of a lack of moisture and six were abandoned mid-season because of severe moisture stress."
This year the QLD and NSW NVT program comprises 230 trials across 75 locations evaluating wheat, barley, oat, canola, chickpea, faba bean, field pea, lupin and sorghum.
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 Fitzgerald, who has more than 20 years of experience in grain crop agronomy and trial work, is one of a team of dedicated GRDC NVT staff enhancing co-ordination of trials and extending NVT's reach and presence in the regions.
Based in the Toowoomba office, Mr Fitzgerald said he was committed to making sure growers understood how the NVT program worked and had access to up-to-date information about varieties.
"Selecting the right variety can mean the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable crop," he said.
"It's a key management decision which can affect everything from sowing time to disease management, fertiliser requirements and herbicide use.
"All these elements have an effect on yield and input costs, so growers need the latest data to help get variety choice right and that's where the NVT program is critical."
To 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'. You can also listen to NVT podcasts.
Results from this year's trials will be available at the end of the season on the GRDC NVT website at www.nvtonline.com.au by searching the 'Find Trial Results' box.