24 October 1997

OSRgrowth variable

OILSEED rape growth varies widely across the UK.

Crops sown in mid-August into moisture now have four or more leaves. Those sown even as little as a fortnight later when soils had dried are still at the cotyledon stage.

"They are only just coming through now," says Essex-based agronomist Richard Martin, who reckons up to 20% of the rape in his area is affected. "Growers are a bit slug scared, and are applying pellets." Yorks farmers are also nervous, says ADAS adviser Brendan OConnor. "They want a mild spell now to keep crops growing, and are nervous about a hard winter. Pigeons could be a worry."

Slugs have hit some backward crops in Scotland, says CSC Cropcares Keith Dawson. Some have been redrilled. "But later-sown crop which are often a problem have emerged quickly in warm seed-beds." &#42