Proud oilseed rape crops could be at risk from frost kill with recent warnings from the Met Office that the UK could be facing a harsh winter.

“In cold weather…there is a need to strengthen the crop by increasing root length, diameter and mass and to slow down the production of leaves,” said BASF’s Diane Heath.

Early drillings have meant many rape crops are particularly advanced this season, she said, adding that triazole fungicide Caramba not only gives good disease protection against phoma and light leaf spot, but can also provide the first step in canopy manipulation by improving the rooting structure of oilseed rape.

“Using Caramba or Sunorg Pro [both based on metconazole] in the autumn from the four- to five-leaf stage, particularly in those crops that are well developed and those on light soils, will shorten and strengthen plants in readiness for the winter.

“Good yields of rape depend on building the right structure. By now crops should have 40-60 plants/ sq m for hybrid varieties and 50-80 plants/ sq m for conventional varieties with eight to 10 leaves.”

Disease control is also important, she added, with losses of up to 50% and 40% recorded from phoma and light leaf spot respectively.