Applying nitrogen to oilseed rape© Tim Scrivener

Oilseed rape growers may be able to save on nitrogen fertiliser costs if the mild weather continues and big proud crops are seen in the early spring.

Mild autumn weather has seen many crops race away and if there is no sharp cold conditions before the spring, crops may be too forward and require less nitrogen.

Last season, many crops grew well through the autumn, before cold winds early in 2015 knocked the crop development back, so much depends on the weather.

David Leaper, seed technical manager at agronomy and distribution group Agrii says the current unprecedented mild conditions could allow growers to cut back on nitrogen.

“If the big crop canopies we are seeing continue into the spring, then growers may be able to hold off with nitrogen and save some money,” he tells Farmers Weekly.

See also: Oilseed rape area falls with spring crops to take up the slack

In addition, growers may need to consider using a plant growth regulator (PGR) in the early spring to control excessive growth.

Mr Leaper says an early PGR, such as Toprex (difenoconazole + paclobutrazol), can be applied when the crop starts to grow again in February and March.

However, the mild conditions may allow diseases such as phoma and light leaf spot to develop, and many agronomist says a cold snap of weather is needed to slow down disease spread.