Dry spell for oilseed rape harvest

A fine spell of dry weather has allowed Devon grower Steve Lee to saw through his 80ha of oilseed rape in just three days.

Harvest from his base in Black Dog, near Crediton, began four days earlier this year – on Tuesday, 26 July – and the quality and yields have been encouraging.

A 24ha block at Crediton, split evenly between ES varieties Astrid and Cubic, came off the combine yielding an estimated 4.34t/ha. An ideal moisture content of 9% meant the crop did not need drying.

The farm’s John Deere S690i Hillmaster combine with 10m (30ft) header was then moved into a 21ha block of ES Alienor, three miles away, in Witheridge.

“The Alienor looked well in the field all year, so I’m not surprised it yielded slightly better at an estimated 4.69t/ha,” says Mr Lee.

However, the variability in moisture content – between 8 and 13% – meant he got to try out his new Mecmar dryer, which worked “extremely well”.

A second block of Astrid and Cubic, totalling 25ha at Tiverton was combined last Thursday (28 July) with variable yields, estimated from 4.25t/ha to 4.70t/ha.

But overall he was delighted with his oilseed rape yields, which have risen significantly on last year’s average of 3.7t/ha.

“It’s certainly been a good year for growing oilseed rape in these parts. We had enough rain at the right time.”

Most of the oilseed rape has been sold to Frontier and taken to the firm’s store in Southampton from where it will be exported.

For the first time this year, Steve entered into a muck-for-straw exchange contract with a local dairy farmer.

“We normally incorporate the rape straw to benefit the ground. But this year we decided to bale 46ha in exchange for the muck. It worked out really well.”

Around 12ha of Tardis oats were sprayed off with Roundup (glyphosate), which he hoped to start cutting over the weekend.

After that, he would soon move into the 300ha of feed wheat, with a range of varieties to suit different conditions, including Lear, Einstein, Sahara, Viscount and Scout.

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