Flea beetle damage in an emerging OSR plant© Oli Hill

Drought and flea beetle attack has written off 70,000ha of oilseed rape across 18 counties in England this autumn, an independent survey has estimated.

The Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC) asked its agronomist members to report the proportion of oilseed rape crops they oversee that had been lost or failed to establish.

Traders estimate that about 530,000ha of oilseed rape was drilled this autumn in England.

See also: Ways to improve on 2016’s poor oilseed rape performance

Over 70 agronomists responded from counties stretching from Northumberland down the eastern side of Britain to Kent, representing about 71% of the total English crop.

In these 18 counties the survey results suggest that 9% of the crop has been written off because of drought and 7% by flea beetle damage overall.

It is thought that as much as 40,000ha may have been lost as a result of poor germination and crop establishment with dry seed-beds to blame.

Hertfordshire, Essex, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk are the five counties where crop establishment was worst hit by the lack of soil moisture.

In Cambridgeshire, Kent and West Sussex about 10% of crops are also thought to have failed because of prolonged arid conditions.

 County  % crop lost to dry conditions
 Hertfordshire  45%
 Essex  45%
 Bedfordshire  26%
 Northamptonshire  19%
 Suffolk  11%
 Cambridgeshire  10%
 Kent  10%
 West Sussex  10%

The survey indicates that a further 30,000ha has been lost to flea beetle damage this autumn, with a third (33%) of crops in Hertfordshire and 29% in Bedfordshire being wiped out.

 County  % crop lost to flea beetle damage
 Hertfordshire  33%
 Bedfordshire  29%
 Essex  16%
Cambridgeshire   12%
 Northamptonshire  12%
 Hampshire  10%
 Oxfordshire  10%