Spring Oilseed Rape: Seed
A difficult Autumn with reduced windows for drilling winter cereals and some fields left undrilled until spring could open new opportunities for spring break crops in 2020, particularly for spring oilseed rape (SOSR).
It can certainly be a challenging crop to grow, particularly with the dry conditions often experienced in the spring but grown well SOSR can be a good option financially and is a challenge worth tackling. And with improved hybrid varieties offering significant advances in vigour, seed yield and oil contents over older varieties together with improved commodity prices and the rotational benefits of a non-cereal break, the crop deserves careful consideration this spring. It is an excellent entry for wheat, as it improves the soil structure and leaves behind residual nutrition.
The key to a successful crop of SOSR with decent yields is successful establishment. By planning and confronting potential issues early and making sure you employ the best possible approach when it comes to establishment, you will have a much better chance of taking the crop through to yield well.
Here are five tips to help ensure SOSR is a success:
- Choose a vigorous hybrid that can get away quickly to out-compete spring weeds. Likewise, selecting a variety with high oil content can help maximise income from oil.
- Get your seedbed conditions right. A stale seedbed at the start is key, then you want a good, even seedbed and some moisture to help the seed get up and away. Drill at the right time resisting the temptation to drill too early. Late march or early April are best when soil temperatures are warm enough to give the crop a quick start. The soil should be warm, around 9-10°C, with a minimum soil pH of 6-6.5.
- Use a higher seed rate than for WOSR. Drill at around 80 to 90 seeds/m2, aiming to achieve a plant population of around 70 plants/m2.
- Use a residual herbicide to remove early weed competition. Apply split doses of N between 100kg/ha and 150kg/ha at sowing time and at emergence.
- Watch out for pests! Monitor and be prepared to treat if necessary for slugs, pigeons and cabbage flea beetle as the crop emerges, and pollen beetle at the green bud stage.