Photo of Phil Metcalfe’s Hillmaster combine at work on a crop of Anastasia oilseed rape posted in by MidphoPhoto of Phil Metcalfe’s Hillmaster combine at work on a crop of Anastasia oilseed rape posted in by Midpho

Lincolnshire grower Andrew Ward has harvested an impressive oilseed rape crop with an average yield of 4.7t/ha as forecasts for the national crop have edged up.

Mr Ward has just combined his earliest ever oilseed rape since his farm started growing rapeseed in 1984, in a growing year that seemed to have suited the crop.

“The crop looked very well through the season and all our fields showed a consistent yield,” he told Farmers Weekly.

See also: Oilseed rape area set to rise after five years of falls

He grew 180ha of the crop across a range of soils from very heavy clay to heathland, and the overall yield this summer was above his average of 4.4t/ha in 2016.

He uses a low seed rate of 30-50 seed per sq/m and focuses on getting good establishment levels of 90-95%, which produces very regular plants with good side branching, creating lots of pods.

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He grows the high oleic low linolenic (Holl) variety V316OL, which produces high-value food-grade oil on his farm at Leadenham, 12 miles south of Lincoln, and earns a premium over non-Holl varieties.

With the national oilseed rape harvest over 90% complete, Owen Cligg, oilseed manager at United Oilseeds, is pushing up his forecast for average crop yields this summer to 3.9t/ha from 3.8t/ha previously.

This is up from 3.1t/ha the previous season, and the yield forecast this summer has been edged higher as optimism has grown for better-than-expected yields and the national crop is now expected to reach 2.1m tonnes.