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Berkshire triticale a growing grain option in 2013

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article image Dawson Bradford, pictured in his on-farm feed mill

Pork CRC  is supporting the commercial planting of a new variety of triticale that not only gives high yield but also has higher digestible energy content than available varieties.
Last season Dawson Bradford grew 500 hectares of Berkshire triticale at ‘Hillcroft Farms’ at Popanyinning in Western Australia’s Great Southern, where he mills all the feed for his 700-sow piggery.
An exclusive supplier of pigs to leading WA smallgoods manufacturer D’Orsogna Ltd., Mr Bradford must maximise his feed conversion ratio. He has been able to boost his production by utilising Berkshire’s high digestible energy content of up to 13.9 MJ DE/kg, which is about 0.5 MJ DE/kg more than the average energy in other triticale varieties.
He planted Berkshire on high ground to manage problems with frost inherent in all triticale varieties, and also grazed it from late June to early July to extend the flowering window beyond the September frost risk period. Having completed four years of trials, Mr Bradford has found he can sow late and graze without any impact on yield. After harvest straw is used for pig bedding or sold for export.
Mr Bradford has been able to achieve yields above three tonnes per hectare, outperforming the wheat yield. He particularly values Berkshire’s agronomic traits and its flexible sowing date.
Bred through Pork CRC, Berkshire triticale yields well, especially on an energy basis and supports excellent growth performance in pigs. This variety is now commercially available for planting in 2013, with financial backing from the pork industry via Pork CRC.
Murdoch University Professor John Pluske, who leads a Pork CRC project to increase awareness of Berkshire triticale throughout the supply chain, observes that triticale may not be an obvious crop for grain growers to consider in their rotations as it is not widely grown in WA. Therefore, Professor Pluske and his team have been communicating with grain growers, agronomists, grain buyers, feed manufacturers and pork producers about Berkshire because of the benefits for the pig industry and the grain industry.
Long-term NVT trials in eastern Australia indicate Berkshire is a leading triticale variety. Independent trails in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons in WA showed average yields across several sites compared well to established wheat varieties, indicating Berkshire could be important as a break crop.
Professor Pluske explains that Berkshire’s ability to handle acidic and waterlogged soils gives grain growers an alternative option for these soils, and can be considered as a replacement for wheat in some years thanks to its good performance across many soil types.

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