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Darling Downs Grower Makes Successful Return to Pioneer Sorghum in Tough Conditions

Nick's crop of Pioneer® grain sorghum hybrid G33 performed well despite the severe storms and prolonged hot spells

Darling Downs Grower Makes Successful Return to Pioneer Sorghum in Tough Conditions

2017/18 Season

Owners: Nick Shepherd
Farm location: Dalby, QLD

With drought tolerance at the top of his priority list, Darling Downs farmer Nick Shepherd turned to Pioneer® grain sorghum hybrid G33.

The choice proved to be a good one, as G33 performed well in the 17/18 season, which had everything from severe storms to prolonged hot spells.

Nick, with Gordon (father) and Damian (brother), runs the family dryland farm ‘Blue Hills’ at Irvingdale, growing cereals and pulse crops in the winter, before focussing on sorghum, pulses and millets in the summer.

In addition to drought tolerance, Nick says they look for yield, seed quality and standability in their sorghum varieties.

“Other years we've had a hard, dry finish and we've had charcoal rot in the bottom of the stem, which has driven us away from certain varieties,” he explains.

“We hadn’t grown Pioneer varieties for about a decade, but we looked at local G22 and G33 trials, and we found that G33 definitely had a lot better standability than what we’d been growing, so in conjunction with our agronomist, we decided to go with Pioneer.”

Nick planted the first block of G33 at the end of October 2017 after 62mm of steady rain established a full profile of moisture. Like all their sorghum, G33 received 110 kg/ha urea pre-plant, 35 kg/ha of starter fertiliser on planting and a pre-emergent weed spray.

“Shortly after planting we had about 10 days of 40-plus degree weather, which was fairly hard on everything,” Nick recalls.

“Then on Boxing Day we had a horrendous storm, which produced a lot of in-field wash. However, G33 stood up well, handling the conditions better than the competitor sorghum next to it.”

Nick reports that harvesting the G33 in mid-February was an easy process, presenting as a nice, even crop.

“G33 yielded five tonnes per hectare, it was fantastic, producing a nice sample and we were very happy with the seed size and so is the end user,” he says.

“If we were to compare G33 to a similar competitor variety, it's left it behind, beaten it hands down.”

As lack of moisture is a major challenge on Blue Hills, Nick has planted sorghum on three different dates to spread the risk of low moisture.

With a late plant of G33 and a trial of G44 still to be harvested, Nick believes the later G33 crop has the makings to do at least five tonnes per hectare, similar to the early crop.

“G33 will definitely be in our rotation next year, and once we've finished with the G44 trial, then a decision will be made on that variety too,” he says. “It really has been a dream run.”


If you have any questions, ​contact your local Pioneer​® representative​.

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