5 September 1997

Rape sowings 5% higher

FINE, moist seed-beds are encouraging growers to sow more oilseed rape this season. Estimates put the crop area 5% higher than last year.

Timely drilling and the good soil conditions are encouraging rapid germination and growth. Growers should monitor pests, weeds and diseases carefully.

Rape sowings are up at least 5%, estimates CSC Cropcares Keith Dawson. "Price changes mean rape has narrowed the gap on wheat, and growers had some excellent yields this year."

A similar increase is reported by Barry Barker of Dalgety. "Growers are not as interested in winter barley, apart from quality winter varieties, and there is a lack of interest in spring barley in Scotland. Farmers dont want to grow second wheats, and there are some fairly good forward oilseed rape prices around."

"Nationally, about 75% of the crop was drilled by last weekend," says United Oilseeds agronomist Richard Elsdon. Many crops emerged by the end of August.

Dr Dawson also reports rapid emergence in the north and Scotland. "Growers say its like looking at cress."n

Ideal seed-beds have seen growers boost rape sowings by an average 5% , juggling seed rates to match drilling date, variety and soil conditions.

Barometer on OSR progress

EAST – Philip Godfrey, Huntingdon, Cambs. 93ha sown. Apex (64ha) broadcast from combine header at 6kg/ha on Aug 14, rolled. Half emerged in five days. Synergy and Pronto hybrids drilled on Aug 22 at advised rates. Early crops at 1-2 leaves. Butisan, slug pellets and flea beetle sprays on. 35kg/ha N to follow.

SOUTH – Bill Harbour, Faversham, Kent. Direct drilled 97ha on Aug 22/23, at 30% of conventional drilling cost. Apex sown at 5kg/ha, Synergy and Pronto at 3.5kg/ha. Rest plough + power harrow, drill this week. Slugs a worry in trash – baiting.

EAST MIDLANDS – Justin Blackwood, Great Brington, Northants. 65ha, mainly Apex, trying some Licrown. Started combination drilling on ploughing last Friday, producing wet but good seed-beds. Seed rate cut to 80/sq m (4.2kg/ha) due to that and early drilling date.

SOUTH-WEST – Richard Payne, Taunton, Somerset. Half rape ground ploughed. Stopped by rain at end of last week. 18ha of Apex and Contact to drill – aiming for this week, in line with usual drilling date.

NORTH – Caley Sackur, Driffield, N Yorks. 81ha of Apex and Pronto to sow. 15ha drilled last week, but rained off. 75% of ground ploughed and power-harrowed, rest left in case stays wet.

SCOTLAND – Scott Adam, Kippen, Stirlingshire. Heavy clay soils were ploughed producing dry, cobbly seed-beds. Express and Commanche sown on Aug 19 at 10kg/ha to compensate. Baiting for slugs, no sign yet.

NORTHERN IRELAND – Charles Davidson, Ballywalter, Co Down. 20ha of Synergy. All ground ploughed and slug-pelleted. Power harrow/drill will make good seed-bed. Start expected beginning of this week. Will apply 37.5kg/ha N to crop.