Cropping has recently expanded into arable areas of the high rainfall zone (HRZ) of Australia. We assessed the suitability of canola varieties of winter, winter × spring and spring-maturity at six sites across the south-eastern, northern and western HRZ of Australia for their suitability for dual-purpose production. Experiments measured potential forage production and the effect of defoliation or grazing on grain yield of crops sown from mid-March to mid-May. Overall, these experiments demonstrated the potential for dual-purpose canola across a wide area of the HRZ. In the south-eastern HRZ where winter conditions were sufficient for vernalisation and spring conditions were mild, winter and winter × spring types outperformed spring types as they provided an extended vegetative period for ‘safe’ grazing (prior to stem elongation), producing 3.0–6.8 t dry matter (DM) ha–1 of forage and recovered to produce 2.5–4.9 t ha–1 of grain yield. In the south-eastern region, early-sown winter types produced more forage than other canola types for grazing in late autumn and winter. In one experiment with four sowing times, consecutive delays in sowing of 2 weeks reduced forage available for grazing by 58%, 72% and 95% compared with the earliest sowing time of 10 March (6.1 t DM ha–1). Although spring types in this region provided some potential for grazing, the phenology was unsuitable for early sowing as the rapid onset of flowering reduced the period of safe grazing. Winter types were not suited to the western region, but the winter × spring and spring types produced >1.0 t DM ha–1 of forage and grain yield of 2.3 t ha–1. In the northern region, spring types produced the highest grain yield (>3.0 t ha–1) but suffered significant yield penalties associated with grazing. In other regions there was generally little or no effect of grazing on grain yield when crops were grazed or defoliated before stem elongation. These experimental studies confirm the potential for dual-purpose canola across all regions of the HRZ when suitable maturity types are sown, managed and grazed appropriately.
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Vol. 66 • No. 4