Research Report 2015/2016

Joint Research Projects

  1. National soybean cultivar trials

    AS de Beer, L Bronkhorst, HSJ Vermeulen, NN Mogapi, TC Ramatlotlo and S Seutlwadi
    ARC Grain Crop Institute, Potchefstroom

    A total of 29 commercially available cultivars were evaluated, for the 2014/15 seasons in 22 field trials scattered over the production area representing the cool-, moderate- and warm areas. Only GMO cultivars were included in the trials and Roundup applications were used during the execution of the trials. A randomised complete-block design with three replicates was used for all field trials. Date of flowering (50% flowering), date of harvest maturity, length of growing season, plant height, pod height, green stem, lodging, shattering, 100 seeds mass, undesirable seed, protein - and oil percentage and seed yield were determined and the yield probability of cultivars calculated. Yield probabilities served as guideline for cultivar selection. The mean number of days from planting to 50% flowering of cultivars for the cool-, moderate and warm areas were 74, 59 and 43 days respectively. The overall mean oil content for cultivars was 19.80% for the cool-, 20.83% for the moderate- and 22.06% for the warm areas. The overall mean protein content was 38.06% (cool), 37.65% (moderate) and 39.81% (warm). The overall mean yield was 2 435kg ha-1 for the cooler areas, 2 199kg ha-1 for the moderate and 3 154kg ha-1 for the warm areas. Cultivars with a high yield probability are important in the selection of cultivars by producers due to the reliability of the expected future yield. Cultivars which had high yield probability over the reporting period were PAN 1454R, LS 6146R and LS 6453R LS 6248R, PAN 1583R, PAN 1500R for the cooler areas, PAN 1583R, LS 6164R, LS 6161R, LS 6261R and PAN 1614R for the moderate area as well as PAN 1664R, LS 6164R and LS 6161R for the warmer areas.

  2. Income and cost budgets of soybean and canola

    Mr SG Ferreira
    Protein Research Foundation and Agriconcept

    The Protein Research Foundation (PRF) main objectives include, on the one hand, replacing imported protein for animal use by locally produced protein and on the other hand, to promote improved utilisation of protein. These objectives are funded by funding research and promoting technology transfer.

    Currently the PRF concentrates on two crops, soybeans and canola. It is extremely important to achieve relative profitability for these and competitive crops.

    Income / cost estimates are very useful as they are considered important advisory and management tools. The information could also be applied for strategic planning and the implementation of strategic policy objectives.

    In the past crop income and cost estimates were easily obtainable from the Departments of Agriculture and certain agricultural concerns. Most government departments no longer conduct these studies regularly and the information they have available is mostly dated.

    As a result, the PRF requested Agriconcept (Edms.) Bpk. to calculate the income/cost estimates for selected grain crops in the summer rain fall areas on a continuous basis.

    Scope of study and sources of information

    The regions and sources of information are shown in the table below.

    Table 2.1: Regions and sources of information
    Area Irrigation Dryland Source
    North West Province
    MGK area X MGK
    NWK area X NWK
    Mpumalanga Province
    Trichardt X Group discussion
    Piet Retief X Group discussion
    Loskop Irrigation Scheme X MGK
    Bergville / Winterton X Group discussion
    Bloedrivier X Group discussion
    Free State
    Reitz area X VKB
    Northern Cape
    GWK area X GWK


    At the moment the PRF enjoys the co-operation of agricultural businesses within the summer rain fall area. Each year the MGK, NWK, GWK and VKB prepare income / cost budgets for a wide variety of crops produced within their service areas. The objectives of these budgets are to provide instruments to be utilised for planning and to assist with credit consideration. Annually, by approximately August, they provide crop income / cost estimates for the purposes of this study.

    Agriconcept evaluates this information, does the necessary adjustments if necessary and repackages the information to present it on a comparable basis. In order to present the income / cost estimates in a standardised comparative format, every effort is made to obtain detailed information from agricultural businesses. However, the information is provided in a summarised format without making available particular details. The PRF then prepares information to reflect a typical medium- to long-term situation. As such, seasonal variations are not taken into account.

    In certain areas, agricultural businesses do not offer agri-economical services. In those areas the PRF obtains information by means of group discussions. Small groups of farmers are involved to provide the information. The information obtained is processed to prepare income / cost estimates. The information is adjusted annually, using the latest prices or indices. Where possible, group discussions are repeated every three to four years, as the industry might undergo structural changes.

    Budget format

    Budgets are prepared as follows:

    • Gross income

      Both the expected yield per crop and gross price are used as basis for calculating gross income. SAFEX listed prices were used to calculate gross income for soybeans, maize, wheat and sunflower, while Soill estimates were used in terms of canola prices to calculate budgets. GWK prepared an estimate of groundnut prices.

      The gross futures prices were as follows on 06.11.2014:

      Crop Source Futures for delivery during: Futures price
      Soybeans SAFEX May 2016 5 380
      Maize SAFEX July 2016 2 946
      Wheat SAFEX December 2016 4 650
      Sunflower SAFEX July 2016 5 880

      Prices for canola and groundnuts were as follows:

      Crop Source Delivery during: Estimated price
      Groundnuts GWK April / May 2016 4 550
      Canola Soill November / December 2016 10 930
    • Net price at farm gate

      The net price per tonne at the farm gate represents the gross price less marketing costs.

      Marketing costs include the following items:

      • Transport differential (obtained from SAFEX)
      • Grade discount for wheat (SAFEX formula)
      • Handling fee
      • Broking fee or marketing commission
      • Hedging costs
      • Drying costs
      • Statutory wheat levy

      Transport costs from farm to silo were estimated by Agriconcept, taking into account distance between farm and silo.

      It was assumed that products are delivered immediately after harvest, allowing no estimate for storage costs.

    • Costs prior to harvest and harvesting costs

      Costs prior to harvest are set out in the attached budgets and do not require much explanation. Harvesting costs include only fuel and repair costs. Where producers use contractors' services, the costs were included as a cost item.

      Depreciation is not included as a cost item. Mechanisation costs include only fuel and repair costs.

    • Comparable yields

      A comparison between yields for various regions is shown in Table 2.2 and Table 2.3.

      Table 2.2: Comparable grain yields for the various regions – irrigation
      Region Soybeans Maize Wheat Groundnuts Canola Soybeans as
      percentage of maize
      Tonnes per ha %
      North West
      MGK area (Brits) 4.00 12.00 5.50 33%
      Loskop Irrigation Scheme 4.00 12.00 5.50 33%
      Bergville 4.00 12.00 33%
      Northern Cape
      GWK area 4.00 13.50 7.50 3.00 3.50 30%
      Table 2.3: Comparable grain yields for the various regions – dryland production
      Area / product Soybeans Maize Sunflower Wheat Soybeans as percentage of maize
      Tonnes per ha %
      North West
      NWK area
      Koster (Region 1) 2.00 3.50 2.00 57%
      Lichtenburg (Region 2) 1.50 3.50 1.50 43%
      Trichardt (Precision) 2.50 8.90 28%
      Piet Retief 2.50 6.50 38%
      Bloedrivier 2.00 4.50 44%
      Free State
      Free State 2.00 5.00 2.25 2.50 40%

      The assumption obtained in tables 2.2 and 2.3, indicates a relatively constant ratio, with the exception of Koster and Kinross, between soybean and maize yields for the respective regions.

  3. Evaluation of PRF soybean elite lines under South African conditions

    Mr GP de Beer and Mr WF van Wyk
    Protein Research Foundation

    The PRF soybean Elite trials (2015/2016) were planted at the following six (6) localities:

    Stoffberg Representative of the northern Highveld
    University of Pretoria (Hatfield) Representative of the southern Highveld
    Brits Representative of the northern irrigation area
    Potchefstroom Representative of the western production area
    Bethlehem Representative of the eastern and northern Free State
    Ukulinga (Pietermaritzburg) Representative of the northern Highveld

    The number of standards used for the trials were reduced from five to four local cultivars. Only one of the previous five was retained (LS 6164 R – M.G 6.0). The following four (4) standards were used:

    LS 6240 R M.G 4.0
    DM 5953 RSF M.G 5.0
    LS 6164 R M.G 6.0
    PAN 1729 R M.G. 7.0

    In 2015/2016, seventy one (71) lines (genotypes) obtained from seed institutions, mainly from South America (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) were planted with the four South African cultivars (standards) at the six mentioned localities. The maturity groups varied from M.G – 3.7 to M.G – 8.5.

    The past season was one of the hottest and driest seasons recorded for some years. The extreme high day temperatures caused severe stress for the plants. In spite of supplementary irrigation, plants at the Potchefstroom site suffered damage due to the extreme day temperatures that often reached 40°C and caused clear moisture stress in the plants.

    A number of the 71 lines showed high yields and therefore have potential to be included in additional local trials that may lead to possible registration as cultivars in South Africa.

    Two of the South African standards showed broad adaptability and were winners or runners-up at most of the localities. Cultivar DM 5953 RSF showed remarkable high yields:

    Pretoria 7.2 tonnes per ha
    Bethlehem 5.2 tonnes per ha
    Stoffberg 5.1 tonnes per ha

    The project creates opportunities for participating seed institutions to consider their materials for local registration. As such it broadens the selection of soybean cultivars in South Africa and should be continued.

  4. Cultivar evaluation of oil and protein seeds in the winter rainfall area: Western and Southern Cape

    Mr PJA Lombard, Ms L Smorenburg and Dr JA Strauss
    Department of Agriculture: Western Cape

    National cultivar trials

    The Western Cape Department of Agriculture conducted a range of cultivar trials during the 2015 season in the Swartland and Southern Cape. In the Southern Cape eight trials were planted and the six data sets were used (bad establishment occurred at Rietpoel and herbicide damage occurred at Roodebloem). In the Swartland eight trials were planted with only one trial not harvested (insect damage).

    The past season in the Swartland was characterised by extremely dry conditions during August and September. The rainy season started on May 30, there were two months of effective rainfall. In the Swartland the average rainfall for April to September was 45% to 57% of the long-term average. In the Southern Cape above average rainfall occurred. May was dry in the central and western parts of the ROens. In the eastern parts planting was done in April with good soil moisture.

    During August and September, the minimum and maximum temperature at Langgewens was above average. At Rietpoel the maximum temperature for July was 2.5°C lower than the long term average. The minimum temperature in August and September was however 1°C warmer than the long term average.

    In the Swartland, the average yield was 1 320kg ha-1 compared to 2 468kg ha-1 in 2014. All the trials in the Swartland emerged at the same time after the first rain on May 30.

    The new conventional hybrid cultivar Diamond (1 721kg ha-1) was the top performer in the Swartland. Diamond was followed by Tango (1 519kg ha-1) and CB Agamax (1 441kg ha-1). The above cultivars are all early to medium cultivars and were better adapted to the short growing season. The CL-cultivar 44Y89 (1 643kg ha-1) has the 2nd highest yield in the Swartland trials and was significantly higher than other cultivars within the CL group. In the TT group, the hybrid cultivar, Hyola 559 (1 273kg ha-1) was the best performer. The yield of Hyola 559, was not significantly better than CB Atomic and Granite TT.

    The yield of the TT-cultivars in the Swartland and Southern Cape was 24% and 18.1% respectively lower than the conventional varieties.

    In Rûens the average yield ranged from 1 714kg ha-1 at Witsand and 2 121kg ha-1 in Napier. The conventional cultivar Belinda (2 278kg ha-1) had the highest average yields in the conventional group and was followed by the cultivar Diamond. The CL-cultivar 45Y88 (2 346kg ha-1) was the highest yielding cultivar in the CL group. It was also the variety with the highest yield in the Southern Cape. The cultivar 44Y89 was 2nd in the CL group, its yield was not significantly lower than 45Y88. In the TT group CB Atomic HT (1 800kg ha-1) produced the highest yield followed by Hyola 555 and Granite.

  5. Management strategies for soilborne diseases of soybean in South Africa

    Dr YT Tewoldemedhin and Dr SC Lamprecht
    ARC - Research Institute for Plant Protection

    In the surveys conducted in South Africa in cultivar trials and farmers' fields, 71 fungal and oomycete species were obtained from soybean crowns, hypocotyls, cotyledons and roots. Of the 71 fungal and oomycete species, Fusarium (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. oxysporum, F. solani) were among the root rot causing species, while Pythium spp. and R. solani (P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum, R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HG-III) caused root rot and/or damping-off. However, Sclerotium rolfsii is reported to cause southern blight and Diaporthe / Phomopsis spp. complex are causal agents of stem blight in South Africa. These soilborne diseases of soybean are reported to cause yield losses of up to 70% and in some cases plant losses and yield reductions of 100% have been reported in very susceptible soybean cultivars. In other countries, it is clear that integrated management strategies that include at least seed treatment, resistance / tolerance and proper crop rotation are essential to sustainably manage soilborne diseases of soybean in South Africa. Although management strategies have been tested in other countries, they have not been properly tested and applied in South Africa. For this purpose, three management strategies were evaluated last year under glasshouse conditions. Among the fungicides evaluated, potential fungicides suitable and effective as seed treatment on soybean were identified. Of the screened cultivars those with tolerance / resistance against the most important pathogens of soybean were also identified. Pre-crops (rotation crops) that are either non-hosts or have some degree of tolerance to the soybean pathogens were also identified, which will render them suitable as rotation crops. However, the results of this study need to be verified to be considered reliable. Therefore the aims of the current study were to repeat the glasshouse bioassays to control pre- and/or post-emergence damping off, root rot, southern blight and stem blight of soybean by investigating:

    • fungicide seed treatments,
    • screening commercially available South African soybean cultivars for tolerance / resistance, and
    • screening pre-crops as rotation crops to reduce disease pressure.

    Apron XL (a.i. mefenoxam), Celest XL (a. i. fludioxonil + mefenoxam), DynastyCST (a. i. azoxystrobin + fludioxonil + mefenoxam), Maxim Quatro (a. i. thiabendazole + azoxystrobin + fludioxonil + mefenoxam), EverGol Energy (a. i. penflufen + prothioconazole + metalaxyl) and mixture of Apron XL (a. i. mefenoxam) + Celest XL (a. i. fludioxonil + mefenoxam) fungicides were evaluated as seed treatments for their effects on survival, growth and root rot of seedlings in soil infested with Fusarium spp. (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani), Pythium spp. (P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum), and Rhizoctonia solani (AG-2-2 IIIB and AG-4 HG-III). Results of the effect of fungicide seed treatment on survival of soybean seedlings grown in soil infested with important soilborne pathogens showed that pre- and post-emergence damping-off of soybean caused by important soilborne pathogens of soybean can be effectively controlled by Evergol, DynastyCST, Maxim Quatro and a mixture of ApronXL and CelestXL. However, Evergol and Maxim Quatro are more effective against Fusarium spp. Although seed treatment with Apron XL (a.i. mefenoxam) was effective in reducing damage caused by Pythium species, it was not effective against other soilborne diseases of soybean causing species. However, Celest XL was effective in reducing damage caused by R. solani AG-2-2IIIB and AG-4 HGIII, and although, it reduced damping-off of soybeans caused by Pythium species, in most cases it was not as effective as the mixture of Apron XL and Celest XL. It was surprising that DynastyCST and Maxim Quatro were not performing as effective as the mixture of Apron XL and Celest XL, since the active ingredients also contained fludioxil and mefenoxam. However, during the visit to the Argentinian seed treatment facility, Dr M Scandiani pointed out that the active ingredient azoxystrobin found in both DynastyCST and Maxim Quatro affect seed germination negatively. Therefore, in Argentina they are using a product called Maxim Evolution which contains the same three active ingredients included in Maxim Quatro, but without the azoxystrobin, and reported Maxim Evolution to be much more effective than Maxim Quatro. Our effort to import a sample of Maxim Evolution from Argentina for research purposes was unfortunately not successful. Twenty-seven soybean cultivars were evaluated against important soilborne disease of soybean causing pathogens (Diaporthe phaseolorum var. meridionale, Phomopsis longicolla, F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani, F. virguliforme, P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum), R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HG-III, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Sclerotium rolfsii) under glasshouse conditions in order to determine resistance / tolerance in South African commercially available cultivars. From the results obtained in the cultivar screening bioassay, it was clear that there are differences in cultivar tolerance / resistance against the soilborne pathogens of soybean included in this study. Cultivar soy8 was one of the most susceptible cultivars to F. solani, S. rolfsii and all species of Pythium and Rhizoctonia. In addition, cultivars differ in their reaction against different species. For instance, cultivar soy13 had the highest resistance against all Fusarium spp., most of Pythium spp. and R. solani AG-2-2IIIB, but was highly susceptible to R. solani AG-4 HGIII and moderately susceptible to Sclerotium rolfsii. In the cultivar screening bioassay conducted with P. longicolla and D. phaseolorum var. meridionale, it was found that there are different degrees of tolerance / resistance in the cultivars. All of the cultivars evaluated appears to be susceptible to Fusarium virguliforme, M. phaseolina and S. sclerotiorum. Therefore, selecting a cultivar, with tolerance / resistance against soilborne diseases to plant in a field with a known soilborne disease problem, knowledge of the most important pathogen/s is essential. This is necessary, since most of the cultivars tend to have different reactions to different species of soilborne disease causing pathogens.

    In order to investigate whether soilborne pathogens of soybean (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani, P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum), R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HG-III) can affect the pre-soybean (rotation) crops that are used as rotation crops with soybean, six crops were identified and evaluated under glasshouse bioassays. The result of this study revealed that drybean is affected by only two Pythium spp. (P. aphanidermatum and P. heterothallicum) and two R. solani AGs (AG- 2-2IIIB and AG-4 HGIII). In addition, sunflower, sorghum, and wheat are also affected by Pythium and R. solani. The pathogens caused significant damping-off and root rot on these crops. An interesting observation was that most of the pathogens included in the study induced significant damping-off on yellow maize. However, survival of white maize was not affected by the presence of these pathogens in the soil except by R. solani AG-2-2IIIB. Therefore, in the absence of other management strategies it is important to rotate soybean crops with white maize in order to reduce the inoculum pressure for the following soybean crop without significantly compromising the production of the pre-season crop.

    Three management strategies were evaluated. In the two years' study, among the fungicides evaluated, potential fungicides suitable and effective as seed treatment on soybean were identified. Cultivars with tolerance / resistance against important soilborne pathogens of soybean were also identified, as well as pre-crops (rotation crops) that are either non-host or have some degree of tolerance / resistance to the soybean pathogens evaluated. The ideal practice in combating the soilborne diseases of soybean is to combine the best of the three strategies. This will ensure the sustainability of the management practice with considerably lower input cost. However, the results of this study need to be verified under field condition to be considered reliable. For this purpose, commercially available fungicides that were evaluated under glasshouse conditions will be used to test their ability to control soilborne diseases of soybean under field conditions. Three representative sites, one each in cool, moderate and warm soybean production area, will be selected. In each site seeds of three soybean cultivars will be treated with four fungicides, which will have three replicates.

  6. Etiology and population structure of macrophomina phaseolina (charcoal rot) in sun­flower and soybeans in South Africa

    Ms E Jordaan and Prof JE van der Waals
    University of Pretoria

    This research aims to answer questions about the Macrophomina phaseolina populations in sunflower and soybean growing regions in South Africa; and whether they could be grouped according to geography, environment and/or cropping practices. More than 100 isolates have been obtained from infected sunflower and soybean plants. Single sclerotia isolations were made. All isolates were stored at -18ºC using the toothpick method. The population will be identified using multiple gene analysis. Isolates are currently being prepared for screening and we hope to complete this by the end of July 2016. In vitro trials focused on growth rate of the pathogen under different temperatures, pH and on Potato Dextrose Agar amended with copper and chlorate (two products known to cause growth inhibition). Some isolates were compared for their pathogenicity and virulence on sunflower and soybean on seed germination. The in vitro results, two pot trials, a grower survey, and prediction modeling will be used to create a holistic picture of charcoal rot on soybeans and sunflower in SA.

    A countrywide survey will be conducted to determine growers' perceptions, the occurrence of this disease and the subsequent control practices that are in place, if any, so as to provide a picture of how charcoal rot is affecting production in South Africa. The survey questionnaire has been compiled and we are currently looking at ways to reach the soybean and sunflower producers.

    With the use of climate prediction models we will attempt to predict the impact of these changing climatic conditions on disease development in future. Parameters for disease incidence have been compiled and will soon be sent for analyses.

    A pot trial to investigate the effect of drought on charcoal rot will also give an indication of the yield reduction caused by charcoal rot. Another pot trial will evaluate nitrogen fertilization to determine the effect of the nitrogen source used and the quantity of nitrogen added to the soil on disease development. Long and short growers for sunflower and soybean will be included in the nitrogen trials. As we have to wait for the growing seasons, these trials will only commence in August 2016.

    Future research from this project could be focused on resistance breeding, or screening for tolerant sunflower and soybean cultivars. This research can aid in the forecasting of disease incidence and severity, and to establish control methods. An article on the proposed research has already been published in Oilseeds Focus (June 2016). Upon completion of the project results will be published in peer review articles in scientific journals, articles in local media such as Farmers Weekly and Oilseeds focus, and presented at farmer days.

  7. An evaluation of continuous cash crop production (including small grains, canola and other alternative broadleaf crops) under conservation agriculture principles on high potential soils of the Riversdale Flats

    JA Strauss
    Western Cape Department of Agriculture

    The year 2015 was the 4th year of production on the new trial. Six cash crop systems are tested including shortened canola rotations and cover crops. A total of 60 plots were planted. The 6 systems tested are replicated 3 times and all crops within each system are represented on the field each year. Riversdale received late summer rainfall in the pre-season which resulted in enough available moisture to plant early in April. The rest of the 2015 rainfall during the production season from April to September was higher than the 2014 season but still around 40mm less than the long term average. The rain was well spread throughout the season and a cool September stretch the season longer which resulted in excellent yields.

    The canola cultivar – 44Y87 was planted at Riversdale at 3kg/ha. A total of 53kg N/ha was applied to each plot (23kg N/ha at planting and 30kg N/ha top-dressings).

    Canola yields at Riversdale averaged 1 420kg/ha with all plots showing oil yield above 40%. This average yield was 10kg/ha less than in 2014.

    The wheat cultivar – SST027 was planted at Riversdale at 74kg/ha. A total of 53kg N/ha was applied to each plot (23kg N/ha at planting and 30kg N/ha top-dressings). Wheat yields at Riversdale averaged 3 598kg/ha. This was 941kg/ha more than in 2014.

    The barley cultivar – Erica was planted at Riversdale at 53kg/ha. Barley yields at Riversdale averaged 3 610kg/ha. This average yield was 160kg/ha less than in 2014.

    The Lupin cultivar – Mandelup was not available so a bitter lupin mix was planted at Riversdale at 110kg/ha. Lupin yields at Riversdale averaged 272kg/ha.

    The oats cultivar – Saia and vetch was planted at Riversdale at 29kg/ha and 42kg/ha, respectively. No other input cost was occurred during the season except the herbicide cost to kill the cover crop following the information day.

    The economic data for 2013, 2014 and 2015 has been captured will be discussed in this report. A summation of the gross margins of each of the six systems tested at the site over the 3 combined 3-year period has been done.