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Champion soybean crops challenge Northern Rivers growers

July 14 2023 - 11:00am

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North Coast Oilseeds' champion soybean grower for 2023, Ron Du Frocq in his paddock ahead of harvest at Clovass via Casino. The Hayman variety proved its pedigree despite a lack of rain at flowering. Photo supplied.

Just like livestock, plants don't fancy going backwards and so it was with this year's champion soybean paddock, announced by the North Coast Oilseed Growers Association. Judged by Department of Primary Industries' technical officer Nathan Ensbey with technical assistant Sam Blanch - both of them keen seed increase growers - the top three place-getters were each serviced by Norco agronomist Angus Leggo, and all sold beans to PB Agrifoods, Toowoomba. Varieties differed, as did yield, but findings were based on quality. First place went to Ron Du Frocq, Clovass, where the Hayman variety was sown into a mix of basalt, deep alluvial and cracking clay soils following winter wheat. It was planted with 100kg/ha starter fertiliser and followed on with foliar applications of zinc, fulvic acid for uptake, and dissolved urea. There was a late spray of copper, boron and more zinc. The transition from leafy stage to seed production proved itself with plenty of four-bean pods at harvest. The late variety Haymann went in the ground in mid January and could have used more than the 376mm it received during its growing period. A lack of rain at flowering set back the yield but in the end yield measured 3.15 tonnes a hectare. Quality stood up, however, with the beans going to Toowoomba for seed, and proving itself with a 94-95 per cent strike rate. "They were the best beans I've ever done," Mr Du Frocq said. The later harvest - well into June - avoids problems with humidity. If anything the beans were too dry at 11pc. The crop never asked for anything, with rain arriving before wilting and the fertiliser and spray program maintaining that critical rising plane of growth. "Like cattle, plants don't like stress," said the former Santa Gertrudis producer. "They can't have a bad day."

On the Clarence near Tabulam, the Dowley family placed second with their PB Dominator variety, planted early December, that tipped the weighbridge at 4.4t/ha. "We trialled Dominator at the end of the drought and were impressed," said Kendall Dowley, highlighting the variety's ability to flower and grow on after a set-back. At Codrington brothers, Paul and Joe Fleming, claimed the bronze medal for new variety Gwydir, sown early November into a paddock that lost corn in the floods. Despite a hot and dry Christmas period, the crop managed to yield 3.12t/ha. "The biggest issue with Gwydir here on the coast is getting enough moisture early," said Paul Fleming.

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