A Dalby farmer has smashed the Queensland wheat yield record with a crop weighing in at 9.997 tonnes per hectare.
Derryck Mickelborough of Glenesk Farming grew the irrigated crop of Borlaug 100 in 2021, which went on to win champion crop at the 2022 Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland crop competition at the Toowoomba Royal Show in March.
His crop beat the previous record of 8.72t/ha - also set by him with Borlaug 100. That crop was grown in 2020 and won champion crop at the 2021 RASQ competition.
Mr Mickelborough said it was a great result given double digit wheat yields were typically only achieved in the southern cropping zone.
"Relative to the hyper-yielding wheat in the south, it makes this quite an achievement up in our region," Mr Mickelborough said.
"To be comparable in a much harsher climate up here and to be in the same realm as them is really extraordinary."
RAS crop competitions in southern Queensland require test-strips to be weighed in one-tonne weigh bins.
As per the rules, the record crop clocked 9.997t/ha, while the average across the whole paddock was 9.4t/ha.
For the 2021 season, he started planting his wheat program - 270ha dryland and 215ha irrigated - in the first week of June at rates of 30kg/ha and 40kg/ha. He began harvesting in the first week of November.
As for how he managed to squeeze the extra 1.2t/ha out of the crop, Mr Mickelborough said he didn't do anything "extraordinary".
"I can't pinpoint anything we did differently to get that yield," Mr Mickelborough said.
"In both years, we were fortunate enough to have good early rain and we had water that we could put towards it.
"I would suspect that atmospheric conditions were more conducive to a big crop this time."
He said factors such as day degrees, nighttime temperature or sunlight exposure could have affected crop growth.
The crop was irrigated twice and enjoyed good rainfall and underlying soil nutrition thanks to composted gin trash out of the Louis Dreyfus Company gin at Dalby.
"We've got good underlying phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, zinc, but the main driver being nitrogen - we just put what we thought would be appropriate for a good high yielding crop," he said.
"We put on enough to aim for that seven to 10 [t/ha] mark."
Mr Mickelborough, who runs the 670ha operation with his wife Anna and three children, usually grows cotton, sorghum and mungbeans in summer and wheat, barley and chickpeas in winter.
He is also a part owner of Rebel Seeds, which markets Borlaug 100 in Australia.
The variety is named after Nobel Peace Prize-winning wheat breeder Norman Borlaug and was selected from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CYMMIT) program in Mexico.
It was imported to Australia in 2015 as a high yielding feed variety for southern Queensland and northern NSW and had its full commercial release in 2019.
Because of his stake in Rebel and Borlaug 100, Mr Mickelborough wanted the show entry to be accurate.
"We did it absolutely by the book because the number on the header monitor isn't always accurate," he said.
He said the record was great for marketing the variety, but it was also important to further discussions about yield limits.
"A lot of people talk about the yield potential of different products like sorghum - can we do much better than 10 tonnes per hectare or not?" he said.
"People want to know where the upper end is and what it takes to get there, and so it's good information for everyone."
With sparse data on record wheat yields in Australia, Toowoomba-based researcher Dr Allan Peake has dedicated several years to finding out more.
In his 2018 article for GRDC, Dr Peake said Tasmanian farmers most likely held the national record for a crop that yielded 12.46t/ha.
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