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Big dry calls for med-quick sorghums

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article image Michael Hegarty is relying on medium-quick sorghums this summer as dry conditions push back planting
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Dry conditions are making Pampas grower Michael Hegarty alter his original summer crop plan. 

Mr Hegarty, who farms Alcheringa with his parents Maurice and Nerida, was preparing for a wide scale grain sorghum plant this season; however the lack of October/November rain has delayed sowing by four to six weeks, forcing him to downscale and choose varieties solely with medium to medium-quick maturity traits.

Mr Hegarty intends to plant 130ha of MR-Bazley, 30ha of MR-Taurus and 22ha of G33 as they are all medium-quick varieties, which should get him from planting to spray-out in 150 days or so. He also plans to do a substantial variety strip trial within the main plant. 

The trial will consist of one hectare each of the medium and medium-quick varieties MR-Bazley, MR-Buster, Pacific MR-43, MR-Taurus, MR-Scorpio and G33. He will be using varieties that either have an established reputation, or new ones coming along with potential.

Mr Hegarty started independent trials in 2011/2012 using Pacific Seeds, Pioneer and HSR sorghums after buying the dryland broadacre business five years ago. He was previously an agronomist for 17 years. 

MR-Bazley showed its potential last season when he planted 40 percent of his sorghum area to it, along with Pacific MR-43 at 40 percent and MR-Buster and G33 filling in the remaining 20 percent. The yields were quite consistent and they averaged 7.25t/ha across all varieties, ranging from 6.7t/ha to 8.6t/ha.

His crop rotation is all about consistency and reliability, aiming to plant two-thirds sorghum and one-third wheat. He prefers the sorghum and wheat combination for reliability of yield. He describes the sorghum as his ‘money crop’ while the wheat helps give the land a spell from heavy summer cropping as well as beat the summer grasses in summer fallow. This approach has given him reliable yields over the last five years.

His planting setup is a solid row configuration with an 8-row machine, 1m rows, and a planting rate of 80,000 seeds/ha. Fertiliser and chemical requirements will most likely remain the same too.

This season Mr Hegarty is looking at a later finish, and will be keeping a close eye on the MR-Bazley crop, along with new varieties MR-Taurus and MR-Scorpio, which he is yet to test.

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