14 February 1997

Making most of winter linseed

MORE experience of sowing dates, establishment and overwintering needs is placing farmers in a stronger position to benefit from the flexibility of growing winter linseed.

That was the message from John Youles, senior agronomist at last weeks ADAS Essex Crop Centres Arable Conference. "We need to aim for a crop mass of 300kg/ha to confidently overwinter this crop," he explained. That can be met by adjusting sowing dates according to regional climate to get crops to the three true leaves to stem extension growth stage before winter.

"Growers in Scotland may want to drill in late August to get plants to the right stage before the weather changes. Farmers in Essex would be better advised to wait until mid to late-September, to avoid potential lodging from an advanced crop.

"Although ongoing work will further refine crop husbandry, we now know drilling at 750 seeds a sq m will achieve a target spring population of 450 plants a sq m," he said.

"In this part of the country, we would expect to see 70-75% establishment from late September sowing to give us an acceptable range of 350-650 plants a sq m after winter.

"Harvesting in August, about 300 days after drilling, makes this a useful alternative crop that may well expand further in the future." &#42