October 6, 2016
Iain Richards Blog: Getting OSR off to a good start
Unlike the Eastern counties, we’re growing much the same area of winter rape as last season. In most cases, the rape harvest was disappointing but by no means disastrous. And our only realistic rotational alternative was more pulses which proved equally disappointing through the combine.
So with rapeseed prices showing an encouraging upturn in marked contrast to pulse returns, our decision wasn’t difficult; especially with no history of serious flea beetle problems.
Flea beetle has, however, proved much more of a challenge in Oxfordshire this time around, coming in at the expanded cotyledon stage and requiring up to three pyrethroid sprays to hold at bay. Thankfully, it has continued to be far less threatening in Hampshire. Even so, the pest has been visibly holding back crops here on the lighter chalky soils where moisture has been more limiting.
We held off rape drilling for as long as we dared in August, only starting on the 22nd once some useful rain was in prospect. This allowed our crops to get off to a generally good early September start, with just enough moisture since to keep them going well on all but our lightest ground.
Our best, most even rape establishment has again come from drilled rather than subsoiler-sown crops, courtesy of a more consistent sowing depth and better seed-to-soil contact. Removing cereal straw has noticeably improved establishment too, as well as making our early slug control challenge more manageable.
We’ve seen a lot of leaf miner activity in the rape this season. At the same time, downy mildew has also been an issue in some cases. Neither of these would be a problem on their own. Alongside the flea beetles and slugs, though, they’ve been responsible for some fairly substantial variations in crop development between and within fields.
Aided by a good dose of root-boosting Nutri-Phite PGA with their insecticide, our mainly fast-developing hybrid rapes seem to be nicely through the danger period now. Some have just had their Centurion Max. In most cases, though, this is still a week away as the black-grass has been so slow to come through and the last thing we want is to have to go in with our propyzamide before both the crops and the conditions are right.
Having said that, black-grass emergence really seems have hotted-up in the past 10 days as moisture levels have improved. Just in time for us to spray off a good flush ahead of our winter barley drilling.
While we won’t be sowing wheat into black-grass ground until the middle of October, much of it has just had its first stubble glyphosate – mainly to get rid of some pretty substantial volunteer rape levels that have been getting in the way of black-grass germination. This should give us the time we need to stimulate the maximum amount of black-grass growth for spraying-off immediately ahead of drilling.