Pull it up or leave it alone?
Barry Barker – Arable Seed Product Manager
The statisticians have been advising us all about the fact that 2012 was for most the wettest year in their lifetime and for many one of the most difficult autumns for harvesting and getting the following crop established. So what many growers are faced with is either pretty bare looking fields due to poor establishment or completely bare because the land has just not been fit to drill.
Probably the most difficult crop to judge in these situations is oilseed rape. Philip Marr, Agrii’s oilseed rape specialist advises that most growers will be making a judgment over the viability of their oilseed rape crops in early February, prior to the first application of Nitrogen. “The plant population required for a hybrid can be in the order of 9-12 plants per square metre and evenly spaced and for a conventional variety from 12-18 plants, to attain a decent yield with a potential 3.5 to 4 tonnes/ha. It is crucial that these plants are well established and have a good root structure, even more so if crops have been ravished by pigeons and there has been a high loss of leaf material. The decision to pull the crop out at this time needs a lot of consideration!!!”
For some the decision has already been made and others will make it very soon. But if the decision is to keep rape in the rotation then it is better to leave drilling spring oilseed rape until the soil and air temperatures have picked up and the crop will emergence and grow away vigorously. This will probably be around late March.
Demand for spring rape seed has been high and a number of varieties have sold out particularly some hybrids. However, there should be stocks of the leading conventional varieties, like Heros, available to meet demand.
If the decision is not to grow spring rape then growers should be aware that stocks of all species are likely to be in short supply this spring. So despite a fair quantity of imported seed being purchased to help meet demand it is certain that variety choice will be limited and if a variety is unfamiliar to a grower then Agrii would strongly recommend that they ask for UK data to support its suitability for its growing in this country.
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