Last update: April 2, 2012 02:36:22 PM E-mail Print





Head: Agronomy Section

Agricultural Research Institute Grootfontein


DURUM wheat is a hard type of wheat, which is not suitable for bread flour, but is used for making macaroni and pastry products. The macaroni and pastry industry in South Africa requires approximately 40000 bags of Durum wheat per annum. In the past these Durum wheats were chiefly imported.

Research by the Department of Agricultural Technical Services, mainly on the Cradock Experimental Farm, has shown that Durum wheat can be grown with success in the Fish River Valley.

In consultation with the Wheat Board, the Winter Cereal Centre at Bethlehem and the University of Stellenbosch, it was decided that Durum wheat would be produced exclusively in the Fish River Valley.

Durum wheat production in the Fish River Valley has the advantage to the farmer, that it has a higher yield potential than the bread wheats generally grown in the Fish River Valley.

Farmers have thus commenced producing Durum wheats in the Fish River Valley in the past two seasons. Sufficient seed of the Durum wheats is at present available from the local Co-operatives in the Fish River Valley for full-scale production of Durum wheat in this area.

It is, however, very important that the farmers in the Fish River Valley are careful to apply the correct cultivation procedures when producing Durum wheat.

The cultivation procedure is as follows:



Only one cultivar viz. Nordum is at present available. Nordum is a medium straw wheat i.e. 800 to 900mm high. The number of days to the formation of ears varies from 100 to 105 days. It is reasonably tight in the ear with a prominent beard. It is slightly susceptible to leaf rust, but resistant to stem rust.



Seedbed preparation, time of planting, spacing and seeding rate are the same as for bread wheat and can be summarised as follows:

. Seedbed preparation

A weed-free seedbed, which is fine and firm, is required. Plant preferably in moist soil.

. Method of planting

Take care that the seed is placed evenly, and not deeper than 25 to 50mm in the moist seedbed. Durum wheat is particularly sensitive to too deep planting. Preferably use a seed drill.

. Date of planting

Lower Fish River Valley i.e. below Dassiedeur: 15th June to 15th July.

Upper Fish River Valley: 15th June to 1 st August.

. Spacing

No significant differences in yield have been found between row widths of from 150 to 250mm.

. Density of planting

Use approximately 70kg of seed per hectare. When planting later than the recommended dates, up to 100kg of seed per hectare can be planted.

. Fertilisation

Have the soil analysed and fertilise accordingly.

In general the following can be recommended:

Nitrogen: Do not apply more than 350kg of Ammonium sulphate per hectare. Less nitrogen should be applied to old lucerne lands. Phosphorus: Apply approximately 200 to 250kg of Super phosphate per hectare.

. Irrigation

Six to seven irrigations of 75mm per irrigation are sufficient for optimum grain yield. These irrigations are applied as follows:

First Irrigation: Directly before planting

Second Irrigation: At the earliest six weeks after planting. Even eight weeks after planting will not be detrimental

Third and subsequent irrigations: Whenever a total of 100mm has evaporated from the vaporation tank


Third Irrigation: Three weeks after the second irrigation.

Fourth Irrigation: At the piping stage on the flag leaf stage.

Fifth Irrigation: Flowering stage.

Sixth Irrigation: Early milk stage.


With regard to irrigation the most important point to remember is that Durums must not be irrigated after the early milk stage.


. Harvesting

The same procedure as for bread wheat.

1. The following is however very important:

The colour of the grain must be a deep shiny brown i.e. the grain must be horny. This ideal colour and horniness is spoilt by irrigating too late in the growing stage or by continuous rain during the ripening period.

2. Durum wheat must not be mixed under any circumstances with any other grain such as bread wheat. Harvesting machinery must therefore be thoroughly cleaned before use.

3. Good weed control is also essential.





Karoo Agric 1 (3), 41-42