30 June 2000

OSRoutput in jeopardy

OILSEED rape growers have slashed inputs this season raising fears for long term disease control, says Novartis.

Its second national survey of winter rape, covering 293 crops and over 9500ha (23,500 acres), suggests growers have spent 40% less on fungicides and herbicides than they did last season.

Overall average spray spend is down from £101/ha (£41/acre) to £59/ha (£24/acre).

The firms Nigel Padbury is concerned that the fungicide cuts could have a severe knock-on effect on yields as light leaf spot and phoma inoculum build up.

"We are likely to see only a marginal effect on this years yields. But the worry is for future years." Only in the south-west and particularly Scotland, where growers continue to spend nearly 30% more than the average on fungicides.

&#8226 Firmer crop prices have revived interest in hybrid rape varieties, according to CPB Twyfords Theo Labuda. "The price of seed will be considerably lower than last year," he adds.

Potato challenge

Potato growers take note – you could win £1000 plus a trip to the World Potato Congress in Holland in our easy to enter Potato Grower Challenge. Sponsored by Aventis and farmers weekly, the competition aims to identify growers who can demonstrate best practise in potato production. 100 runners up will win golf umbrellas. Watch out for your entry form in next weeks issue.