Source: The Land, 15 March 2013

GENETICALLY modified (GM) canola plantings are likely to come back as part of an overall smaller canola plant this year.

Nick Goddard, executive director at the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) said it was likely there would be less canola planted overall than last year’s bumper plant.

“We’re likely to lose a lot of those acres that were planted in drier areas, where canola is perceived as a risk, but looking on averages, it will still be a reasonable sized crop, providing there is an autumn break,” Mr Goddard said.

He said while GM Roundup Ready (RR) lines had a reasonable fit in Western Australian farming systems, on the east coast it was being used more sparingly.

“It’s used more tactically than as a widespread choice in NSW and Victoria, probably less so than the other two herbicide tolerant lines, the triazine tolerant (TT) and Clearfield varieties,” Mr Goddard said.

Rob Sonogan, senior consultant at Agrivision, an agronomy firm based in Swan Hill in Victoria’s Mallee, said RR was lagging behind TT and Clearfield varieties in his area.

“The TTs are certainly very popular, the only issue there is with potential residual problems for the following year’s crop, if there is a dry summer,” Mr Sonogan said.

Mr Sonogan said there was no ideological concerns about RR, but said a combination of relatively high costs, lower prices and limited delivery options meant it was not particular popular in the Mallee.

“It’s probably not that much dearer than other herbicide tolerant lines now, but there is still a reasonable discount to conventional canola lines and there can be additional freight costs, as there aren’t a lot of segregations there,” Mr Sonogan said.

“When you combine that with consistently lower yields for RR lines, there is no compelling reason to plant it.”

Mr Sonogan also said preserving the efficacy of glyphosate was another reason not to plant it.

“Glyphosate is so crucial to farming systems in the Mallee and Wimmera that farmers are making sure they don’t overuse it.”

In the Riverina, agronomist John Sykes, John Sykes Rural Consulting, Albury, said overall canola plantings will be back.

“There was a big canola plant last year, and rotationally, we’re limited in the paddocks we can choose,” Mr Sykes said.