Sentinel sorghum hits the market

Allora farmer Ted Shooter happy with Sentinel harvest result


Sentinel IG sorghum variety has produced 10.17 tonnes/hectare for Allora farmer.

Ted Shooter with his son Harry and father Ray inspecting the Sentinel IG sorghum variety that was planted in a bone dry paddock in December.

Ted Shooter with his son Harry and father Ray inspecting the Sentinel IG sorghum variety that was planted in a bone dry paddock in December.

Ted and Kerri Shooter, Bellevue, Allora, took a punt and planted 25 hectares of Pacific Seed's Sentinel IG sorghum variety in a bone dry paddock last December.

Mr Shooter said there was absolutely no moisture in the soil so he immediately irrigated the crop over four occasions giving it the equivalent of 50 millimetres each water.

He drew his irrigation supply from the central Condamine River underground aquifer.

"We were lucky that it started raining in the middle of January and for that month we received 117mm," he said.

"It continued to rain in February and we received a total of 189mm which gave the crop a further boost along."

Mr Shooter said he planted the Sentinel IG variety as it had the ability to better control over hard-to-kill grass weeds within grain sorghum crops.

"We sprayed the crop with Intervix as it kills the grasses and weeds in the crop which helps reduce the seed bank from the problem weeds and prevent them re-germinating," he said.

Prior to planting, Mr Shooter spread 300 kilograms of urea over the area.

He then planted 55,000 seeds using a Boss Planter with a precision electric drive, and said his strike rate was about 45,000 plants.

Now harvested, the Sentinel variety has produced 10.17 tonnes/hectare, and Mr Shooter sold the crop at upwards of $400/tonne.

"I usually leave my farming stubble in the ground, but this time I got local contractor Stephen Hayward to bale it for me and it returned 8.6 tonne/ha to feed my 30 Hereford breeders," Mr Shooter said.

He said planting the Sentinel was a huge gamble, but it had paid off.

"I certainly have never had a crop like it," he said.

Mr Shooter was part of the Pacific Seeds imidazolinone-tolerant grain sorghum trials and first planted 7ha of Sentinel in 2018, before it was commercially available to the market.

He usually plants wheat, barley and chickpeas in winter and said they have not had a winter crop since 2016.

Sentinel IG sorghum was bred in Toowoomba

Sentinel IG, a imidazolinone-tolerant grain sorghum, was made commercially available by Pacific Seeds following a series of field days across the summer cropping region in 2018.

Pacific Seeds marketing manager Andrew Short said trial results showcased the weed control benefits and management strategies to optimise crop performance.

"Our Toowoomba-based sorghum breeding team had been instrumental to the development and testing of the world-first igrowth herbicide tolerance, working closely with our research and development team in Argentina to ensure commercial reliability and efficacy for the Australian market," Mr Short said.

"With Australia often being such a tough environment, it was vital for us to have this technology in germplasm specifically bred for Australian conditions.

"As with any herbicide tolerance system however, effective integrated weed management is critical to the success of the crop."

Ted Shooter was part of the trial and planted 7ha of Sentinel IG alongside his 103ha commercial crop of MR-Buster.

"The total 110ha of sorghum yielded about five tonnes/ha at harvest in early March, with the new hybrid slightly out-yielding MR-Buster. When I harvested the Buster and placed a mark on the header bin, then we harvested the strip of Sentinel and the grain in the header bin was above that mark," Mr Shooter said.

He said Sentinel IG helped him control the spread of Johnson grass.


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