11 May 2001
‘Late oilseed can beat set-aside’

By Andrew Blake

A LATE-SOWN correctly chosen oilseed can still pay better than set-aside, according to Dalgety.

But gross margins and even net margins do not tell the whole story, warns ADAS.

Spring rape can generate 170/ha (69/acre) more than set-aside, says Dalgetys Julie Goult. Even turnip rape offers an extra 150/ha (61/acre).

The key is to choose a variety with a short growing season to fit around the main harvest schedule for autumn-sown crops.

Turnip rapes, such as Agena, fit the bill and need very little input. Even some new linseed types, such as Symphonia, are early enough to harvest to be considered, she says.

Late-planted spring oilseeds can give good returns and require little management, she adds.

It may be wise to consider flea-beetle protection on the seed this season, but other pesticides are unlikely to be needed.

After the wet spring, recovery from set-aside this summer could be harder than usual with more grassweeds and possible soil-capping to remove, Ms Goult believes.

Linseed and rapes have very deep rooting systems and so leave fields in better condition after harvest.

Assessed purely on gross margin potential there is much to be said for growing a crop rather than opting for set-aside, at this late stage, agrees ADASs David Parish.

Even after allowing for labour and machinery costs, the exercise can be more financially rewarding.

But the implications for next years cropping are a larger factor. It is all very well drilling oilseed rape in May, but if you dont harvest it until the end of September that can have a significant knock-on effect.

For a lot of people it will be better to retain their losses in this season and start with a flier the next.

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