Harvest 2019: Warwick OSR shows good yields after beetle battle

Warwickshire grower and contractor Paul Wilson is seeing good oilseed rape yields after a tough battle with cabbage stem flea beetle throughout a growing season hit by long stretches of dry weather.

Yields were averaging about 3.75t/ha, compared with a medium-term average of 3.75-4.4t/ha while oil contents were lower than usual at between 43.5% to just over 44%, cut at moistures between 8.5% and 9.2%.

He has cut some 100ha of rapeseed, out of 280ha scheduled to harvest this season, across south Warwickshire from his base at Larkstoke farm, just south of Stratford-upon-Avon on the edge of the Cotswolds.

“We are very happy with the yields, given the battle against flea beetles and their larvae and drought,” he told Farmers Weekly.

Oilseed rape harvest

© Paul Hancox

See also: More harvest news and advice

Mr Wilson said oilseed rape was generally planted early in the area to try to limit flea beetle damage, but the pest had given real problems in the area from both beetle and larvae infestations.

All the crops are swathed, which Mr Wilson said gives them a head start for harvest on those treated with glyphosate, and also gives them a trusted method of harvest if glyphosate was ever restricted.

Rows of oilseed rape

© Paul Hancox

Possible price rise? 

Owen Cligg, trading manager at co-operative United Oilseeds, said lower yields and oil contents seen in the Ukraine and France could in theory help push up UK rapeseed prices.

Less rapeseed in continental Europe could help firm prices, while lower oil contents could mean the base 40% oil price will have to increase to encourage growers to sell, as they will see smaller oil bonuses.

Rapeseed is currently being quoted at £310-£315/t ex-farm and £325/t for November.