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Sorghum grower has rewarding season

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article image Lyndon Pfeffer talks grain sorghum crop management at a Darling Downs field day earlier this year

Darling Downs grower Lyndon Pfeffer is planning to plant six grain sorghum varieties in the upcoming summer crop season as he did last season.

Mr Pfeffer, who farms with his wife Lyndelle at their property Bungaree, Pampas, grew six varieties dryland, including MR-Bazley, MR-Buster, MR-Striker, Pacific MR-43, G22, and G33 across 480 hectares last year, and did not need to irrigate the crops due to the good rain in early December, the January floods and the March rainfall.

But this year he will likely rely on irrigation since the forecast is for a drier, tougher season. 

Mr Pfeffer chose the array of crops in October 2012 to diversify his risk with different maturity sorghums; most of the varieties were recommended by his local territory manager, including the MR-Bazley variety, which had a special purpose in his planting window.

He explained MR-Bazley was chosen for the cold start in mid-October, adding that it performed well and delivered on its promise. The sorghum was planted using a John Deere MaxEmerge planter with 1m rows at 70,000 seeds/ha.

Pre-plant fertiliser was applied in the form of 275kg urea, 40kg Gran Am and 40kg Starter Z, while Emerald liquid fertiliser went down at planting with some zinc. Five of the sorghums mentioned were also planted side-by-side in one paddock for comparison.

According to Mr Pfeffer, the Striker and MR-Buster topped the trial, closely followed by G33 and MR-Bazley with G22 dropping off a little. Grain size in the Bazley was excellent with good weight, and the variety showed a good head exerting from the leaf, which made easy harvesting. Though they had midge evident with one variety, no controls were needed with the Bazley.

Impressed with the crop, Mr Pfeffer entered it in the 2012 Millmerran Show, where it placed second in the dryland sorghum category with a per hectare yield of nine tonnes. 

The season was made even more fruitful when he received an award and study trip. Toward the end of the year, Mr Pfeffer was awarded the 2012 Jason Rae Memorial Queensland Grain Grower of the Year Award, presented by AgForce at a gala dinner in Toowoomba last December. 

As a recipient of the award, Mr Pfeffer was given the opportunity to take a study tour anywhere in the world, so he chose the US Midwest. He saw sorghum being harvested in Texas, and also met a very interesting sorghum breeder from Texas University. He noted a few important developments during his tour including a new herbicide developed for use on Johnson grass in hybrid sorghum. He expressed a wish to add this management practice to Australian farming systems, which would allow for higher yields without grass worries.

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