28 August 1998

Summer spurt impresses trio of soya growers

THREE growers experimenting with soya have been impressed with vigorous summer growth. But there is a clear need for careful spring husbandry.

Somerset grower Charles Burrows is astonished at the growth soya made in the early August heatwave. "It doubled to waist height in about a week. I am amazed at how it altered in the hot weather."

Constantly on the lookout for alternatives at Hopkins Farm, Taunton, Mr Burrows has tried sunflowers and lupins without much success.

His 10.5ha (26 acres) of Russian variety Norman Conquest, on a seed-growing contract for Hants merchant Robin Appel, was sown into spring-ploughed, flexicoiled sandland on May 5 with an Amazone RPD drill at 168kg/ha (150lb/acre). "It went in about right. The soil temperature was above 10C (46F), it germinated very quickly and was vigorous coming up."

Treflan (trifluralin) herbicide went on pre-emergence at 1.7litres/ha. "We would probably have been better off with a lower rate. It hit the crop a bit on the overlaps."

Hants grower John Chalcraft opted for soya as a possible replacement for sugar beet for seed on his 300ha (740 acres) New Farm, Kings Somborne. The crop is currently strikingly green against a backdrop of cereal stubbless.

The 11.7ha (29 acres) of coded variety SN0056RA, also for Robin Appel, was drilled on May 8/9 after a planned false seed-bed was thwarted by wet weather. Mixing the required Histick powder inoculum with the seed to encourage root nodules could be a hassle on a larger area, he says.

Mr Chalcraft has not noticed any significant pests or disease on the crop. "Its quite hairy, which insects dont seem to like," he says.

Podding is noticeably better on the shorter plants where the soil is shallower. Anticipated yield is better than 2.5t/ha (1t/acre), though harvest may not be until late September.

Kent farmer Clive Apps, of Boxstead Lodge Farm, Romney Marsh, reckons the season has been far from ideal for soya. "It wants sunshine.

"The main lesson we have learned is about drilling depth. We were told it is critical and that we should not go much deeper than 30-40cm because the cotyledons only get one chance to push through the soil. But I think we could have gone a bit deeper. We had no rain for quite a while and the stuff that didnt get moisture didnt grow."

With no pre-emergence herbicide used, the delay until post-emergence Flex meant poor weed control. "There was more rubbish than I would like. In another year I am sure that if the crop got sunshine and was sprayed early it would soon cover the ground and there would be no weed problems." &#42

Hot weather has brought soya on apace on Charles Burrows Hopkins Farm near Taunton. Strong UK demand is his main reason for trying the crop. Other growers have also been impressed by crop growth although management has had its challenges.

SOYA PROGRESS

&#8226 Good initial vigour.

&#8226 Slow June/July growth.

&#8226 Rapid headway in heat.

&#8226 Weed control hiccups.