Capturing phenological diversity in canola using fewer key environments

Dr Jeremy Whish1, Dr Julianne Lilley2, Dr Susan Sprague2, Mr Brett Cocks3, Ms Brook Anderson3, Ms Nell Evens7, Mr Barrett Sinclair5, Mr Andrew Ware6, Mr  Matthew Nelson4, Dr Bill Bovill2, Dr Bangyou Zheng1, Mr Alexandre Boyer2, Dr Shannon Dillon2, Dr Chris Helliwell2 

1CSIRO Agriculture and Food, St Lucia , Australia,

2CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Canberra, Australia,

3CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Toowoomba, Australia,

4CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Wembley, Australia,

5Kalyx Australia , Perth , Australia,

6EPAG Research , Port Lincoln, Australia,

7Kalyx Australia , Young , Australia


Phenological development in canola is driven by temperature (thermal time, vernal time) and daylength which vary significantly across Australian canola-growing region.  Minimising the number of sites, seasons and sowing dates required to understand these responses in a large diversity panel of canola germplasm is desirable.  We examined the accumulation of thermal and vernal time across Australia to identify a minimum set of environments that could adequately separate the phenological drivers among the varieties.  Using the cardinal temperatures for thermal and vernal time accumulation previously established for canola, a series of long-term simulations using historic weather data were conducted across relevant environments and sowing dates in Australia.  The ratio of vernal to thermal time accumulation was used to remove duplicate environments until eight overlapping environments, comprising four sites (Boorowa NSW, Beverly WA, Gatton QLD and Cummins SA) with mid-April and mid-May sowing were identified. (Table 1).  Concentrating efforts at four sites with two sowing dates has facilitated an intensive and cost-effective sampling strategy to identify flowering response in a large diversity panel.

Table 1.  Minimum environment set with differing ratios of vernal and thermal accumulation

  1. Fast-Vernal : Slow-Thermal (Boorowa NSW, May-15)
  2. Fast-Vernal : Moderate-Thermal (Boorowa NSW, April-15)
  3. Moderate-Vernal : Decreasing-Thermal (Beverley WA, May-15)
  4. Moderate-Vernal : Slow-Thermal (Beverley WA, April-15)
  5. Moderate-Vernal : Moderate-Thermal (Gatton Qld, May-15)
  6. Slow-Vernal: Fast-Thermal (Gatton Qld, April-15)
  7. Very-slow-Vernal : Fast-Thermal (Cummins SA, May-15)
  8. No-Vernal : Fast-Thermal (Cummins SA, April-15)


Dr Jeremy Whish is a Principal Research Scientist. He uses modelling to understand the complexity of farming systems and identify management strategies to reduce production risk. He has published broadly on many aspects of the farming system including biotic and abiotic constraints, crop physiology, phenology, and risk within the management of crops and rotational sequences. 

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