Should winter oilseed rape figure in next year’s cropping? That was the key question for Richard Solari earlier this week as his combinable crop harvest neared its rain-interrupted end.
With about 5% of this year’s first-time crop still to finish because of wet ground, plus a similar proportion of his winter barley and 12ha (30 acres) of wheat after sugar beet to clear, he remained unsure whether its 3.7t/ha (30cwt/acre) yield was good enough to offset its potential down sides.
“I know I need to make up my mind by the end of the week, but after talking to a lot of people I’m still not convinced that it’s right for our land.”
The only reason it was introduced was as a break replacing sugar beet, and its impact on the business’s prime crop, potatoes, was worrying.
“Its workloads have clashed terribly with the potatoes and agronomically I’m concerned about the sclerotinia threat it could bring to them. The question is what else do we grow?”
Oats and/or spring barley were potential replacements. “I admit I’m leaning towards not growing rape again, but we have to ask what the impact will then be on our cropping the following year.”
After previous deluges, a good dry spell eased earlier combining fears and most of his cereals had been gathered in good conditions.
“We had a lovely 10 days of dry weather to get most of the wheat, and as a result I should think we’ve had to dry less than 10%. It’s yielded pretty well too.”
His main disappointment was winter barley, some of which was 1.2t/ha (0.5t/acre) down on his expected 7.4t/ha (3t/acre). “It looked awful at the end of April, and with hindsight I wish we had applied some nitrogen to it in February.
“The lasting memory from this year is of the wet ground and having to tow the combine out.”