OSR growers invited to help major flea beetle larvae trial

Oilseed rape growers are being asked to take part in a national effort to count cabbage stem flea beetle larval numbers.

Researchers are hoping to understand which interventions are making a difference in the battle against flea beetle and need to get samples from as many different fields of oilseed rape as possible.

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The samples will be required from mid-November onwards, with growers and agronomists who take part getting feedback and results once the analysis has been completed.

Break crop specialist Colin Peters of Niab, project leader of the cross-industry taskforce csfbSmart, explained that the aim is to see if there are differences in larvae numbers where various practices have taken place.

These include techniques such as the use of companion crops, early and late drilling dates, defoliation and even the role of different varieties.

“It’s never been done before on this scale,” he said. “Stem larvae counts have been done in small plot work, but we want to look at what effect establishment interventions and agronomic management are having.”

That means they want samples of around 20 stems from crops both with and without companions, as well as those established by different techniques and across a range of drilling dates and soil types.

“The question we get asked most frequently by growers is whether what they are doing is making a difference,” he said.

“We can’t answer that from our current information, so we need to look at numbers across a wide landscape. It will give us a useful snapshot of this season.”

How to get involved?

Growers and agronomists keen to take part will receive pre-paid sample bags and a link to an explanatory video.

Sampling will start from mid-November onwards and will be done in a co-ordinated fashion, so that the samples can be dealt with promptly.

For further information and to register your involvement, email Colin Peters at Niab

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