New Australian record set with Boort corn crop

An Australian corn grower has set a new Australian record and broken through the 20-tonnes-per-hectare barrier for the first time. The crop was grown at Boort in northern Victoria.

The hybrid used was Pioneer 3335, which was grown by Tony Sawers and officially yield-tested at 20.5 tonnes per hectare.

Australian Maize Association president, Nick Hutchins of Darlington Point, was the adjudicator at the weigh-in. Mr Hutchins measured out a random 1.4-hectare section of a field, from which grain was harvested into a truck and taken over a weighbridge at Boort. The area yielded 20.46 tonnes per hectare at 12 per cent harvest moisture.

Another field was also tested with a random one-hectare section of a field harvested. The 3335 maize from this section yielded 20.55 tonnes per hectare. The average yield of the two sections was 20.5 tonnes per hectare at 12 per cent moisture.

Mr Hutchins said he had seen crops that yielded 17 tonnes per hectare, but he had never before a crop of corn exceed 20 tonnes per hectare.

He said the high yields were a combination of good soil type, excellent crop management, drip irrigation, hybrid choice and longer day lengths in Victoria.

“The longer day lengths allow for more solar radiation, and the area generally has cooler summers than more northern corn-growing areas,” he said.

Grower Tony Sawers said there were not many days over 35 degrees Celsius this season, which helped the crop set the record yields.

“This season we should average around 19.2 tonnes per hectare over the 163 hectares planted to 3335,” Mr Sawers said.

The drip irrigation system was installed for tomatoes six years ago. An initial 20 hectares of corn was trialed in 2000 to see how it would perform with the system. After the success of the trial, corn has become a major crop in the 300 hectares of drip irrigation on the farm.

The record crop of corn was grown with two rows on every bed and drippers located approximately 25 cm underground at the centre of each bed.

Row spacings of approximately 84 cm (33 inches) were used on the bed system.

A planting rate of 85,000 seeds per hectare was used when the 3335 corn was planted on October 4 last year.

The block was wetted up using the drippers and the crop emerged within a fortnight of being planted.

Brothers Ronald and Wayne Bramley, who managed the corn, said the drip irrigation and soil moisture was monitored at least once a day.

The blocks were given two to three hours of water each day and used an average of 6.67 megalitres per hectare over the 232 hectares of maize on the farm.

The crop was assisted by 70 mm of summer rainfall early in 2005, giving total water use, including rainfall, of 7.37 megalitres per hectare. Mr Sawers said this was remarkably close to the previous season’s total water use of 7.41 megalitres per hectare.

Ronald Bramley said each hectare received 370 kilograms of MAP, incorporated prior to sowing, and a further 400 units of nitrogen during the growing season, which was fed through the dripper system. The crop also received three litres per hectare of Primextra and one litre per hectare of Dual Gold for weed control. Two kilograms per hectare of Counter were applied for insect control.

The rates and timing of nitrogen needed during the season were based on information from a Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia workshop. Mr Sawers said Pioneer personnel had been very helpful in sharing their knowledge and provoking thought.

Ronald Bramley said apart from the commercial paddocks, Sawers Farms had a number of trials on the property last season. The trials were conducted in conjunction with Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia and Driscoll Seeds of Maryborough and included variety testing of current and experimental hybrids and plant population checks.

Next season a number of agronomic options are being discussed with the aim of lifting yields even further.