6 September 2002

Boost for late-sown OSR

GET late drilled oilseed rape off to the best possible start by giving it a good seed-bed, early nutrients, an open canopy and using a vigorous variety, says UAP.

Many growers have been forced into some tardy sowings due to an estimated 20% increase in crop area, much of it following a delayed wheat harvest, notes western region technical manager Peter Gould.

"Applying a starter fertiliser such as mono-ammonium phosphate early to phosphate-deficient soils, or 25kg/ha of straight nitrogen where phosphate deficiency is not a problem, should aid establishment and give these late drilled crops a kick start."

An open canopy of 30-50 plants/sq m is essential, and UAP recommends applying zinc ammonium acetate root stimulant Route to give the plants root systems a boost to aid nutrient uptake.

A vigorous variety with good stem canker (phoma) resistance, such as Canberra, is preferable.

"It is easy to manage, has good resistance to stem canker," says Mr Gould. &#42

But doubts linger

Grower Andrew Rigg, of Hill View Farm, near Bishops Waltham in Hants, took a look at soya but has stepped back for the time being because of establishment and harvest problems.

"We spent a lot on sprays because of a grassweed problem. That was on top of seed costs of £125/ha for our commercial crop. Pigeon control was not expensive but a lot of time was spent on keeping them at bay." Without control the crop would have been lost.

Yields were only 1.85t/ha (0.75t/acre) and while he had little trouble combining last year, in 2000 wet ground caused severe difficulties.

However, Mr Rigg stresses he still believes soya has a future in the UK.