F2 seed wisdom challenged | My Machinery
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F2 seed wisdom challenged

One of the first tenets of canola production is not to use stored hybrid seed. The second cross, or F2, seed is likely to have variable germination, plants that revert to type and markedly lower yields – or so conventional wisdom has it. However, after finding out members were taking the risk of planting stored hybrid seed, Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) began investigating planting F2 hybrid seed, with intriguing results. “What we had been hearing from some of our growers, especially those in the Mallee, with a lower risk of blackleg, was that they had been able to get away with ‘shandying’ stored seed with new certified hybrid seed at a ratio of around 50-50,” said BCG research agronomist Simon Craig. “We conducted some trials, which mimicked this, with a range of different plant densities to replicate the likely numbers in the paddock if the F2 seed died, and found it yielded equally well as pure certified seed.” Mr Craig was quick to add this did not constitute an endorsement of planting non-certified seed. “There’s a range of things we need to look into, in terms of seeing whether it was a result of the dry season meaning a lower plant density yielded better compared to the mean than it would in a more favourable year,” he said. “Our rationale behind doing this work was that some of our grower members were doing it, and we’d thought we’d have a look at it, and it’s certainly thrown up some interesting findings.” Mr Craig said that with hybrid canola seed generally worth between $22 and $28 a kilogram and sowing rates of 2-3kg/ha, it could be a significant saving if F2 seed could be used. “On a 400ha canola plant, the savings could mean an extra 36 tonnes of urea, or the chance to sow extra acres, so you can see the attraction for growers.” On the flipside, he said the unknown nature of how the saved canola seed, which he said was graded and then the seed treatments generally used in the district, would react. “You could get away with it one year, and then the next year have all the F2 seed fail, and that is something you would have to factor in, you’d have to be comfortable with an increased exposure to risk,” he said. Research director at WA-based Canola Breeders Wallace Cowling said there was a stack of research that showed why saved canola seed should not be used. “The F2 generation is very variable in terms of emergence and flowering, which creates management issues, and then you also have the increased risk of blackleg and plain and simple lower yields,” Professor Cowling said. “I can see no reason why you go down this path, when you can store perfectly good open pollinated seed if you don’t want to pay for hybrid lines.” However, Mr Craig said the BCG research showed the 50-50 hybrid mix outyielded the OP varieties by enough to make it worth persisting with. Prof Cowling said hybrids had clearly proven their worth to farmers. “As a seed industry, we can’t just sit there and say hybrids are going well, you’ve got the independent National Variety Trials (NVT) and the data is all there, and that’s why hybrids are proving popular, even though you have to buy the seed and you can store OP seed.” He said along with the yield advantage, the added vigour from hybrids had benefits in terms of weed management by making canola more competitive. “You can see how it has worked, even with triazine tolerant (TT) hybrid varieties,” he said. “TT lines were generally less vigorous, but the hybrid lines are getting established and getting that ground control.” Mr Craig said BCG was definitely not planning to advise growers to store hybrid seed. “It is something that has worked in the Mallee for some farmers where there probably isn’t that blackleg risk, and it is something we will continue to research, but at this stage we would definitely not be telling growers to cut costs by using F2 seed, there’s still too much we don’t know about it.” The Land: http://www.theland.com.au/news/agriculture/cropping/general-news/f2-seed-wisdom-challenged/2648472.aspx?storypage=2

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