New product helps prevent oilseed rape pod shatter

Pod Stik does exactly what is says, according to Dick Neale, technical manager for Hutchinsons. It sticks oilseed rape pods, preventing them from shattering or separating, decreasing seed loss prior to and during combining.

Oilseed rape pods are prone to shattering just before harvest, particularly as they swell and then contract in alternate wet and dry weather, he explains. “You always find pods splitting open at one end as they start to dry.”

Pod Stik, a DeSangosse product, is a latex polymer blend that has been specifically designed to prevent pods from splitting. And, unlike some previous stickers, it doesn’t glue pods to the inside of the combine, he says.

“Previous products were based on pine resin, and stayed sticky after they were applied. This is a dried-on polymer, so it coats the pod and stays dry. It doesn’t stop the pod from drying out, and does not clog up the combine in anyway.”

The product wasn’t available in time for Hutchinsons to do its own trials last year, Mr Neale admits. But the feedback from farmers who tried it was extremely positive. “They gave it a unanimous vote of confidence. Everyone who used it on a half field came back and said they would use it on the whole field next year.”

The only slight negative was timing. “It is important. Some applications did go on a bit late. Where canopies were a bit more mature there isn’t such a big benefit.”

Slightly green pod

Ideally it should be applied at 1.0 litre/ha around the same time as pre-harvest glyphosate – around 14-21 days before combining – and, indeed, the two can be tank-mixed, as long as an oil-based adjuvant isn’t being used with glyphosate.

“You’re looking for a slightly green pod, which is still pliable. It should bend in two but not split open.”

Yield responses from farmer split fields and in eastern European trials averaged around 0.3t/ha, he says.

Effectively it makes the combine thrash out the seed, rather than being lost before it reaches, or as it goes into, the combine. “There is also a vast reduction in volunteers in the next crop because not so much seed is dropping on the ground.”

That also helps prevent slug populations escalating and, for growers using min-till establishment, preventing volunteers from sucking out moisture from seed-beds. “It also means growers are not drilling into a vast mat of oilseed rape.”

The product costs £7.95/ha. “At current oilseed prices that would earn you £90/ha [for the average 0.3t/ha yield response].”

Case Study – Robert Jones, Harrogate

Pod Stik, in combination with a Biso extending combine header, made a big difference to the amount of losses from his oilseed rape crop last season, Robert Jones, who farms 278ha in total at Rudding Park Estate near Harrogate, says.

“My first reaction was that we probably needed to try it again for another season before making any decision. But on reflection it was such a dodgy season for weather and we didn’t get the losses that it must have done some good.”

Mr Jones sprayed Pod Stik in combination with glyphosate on his entire oilseed rape crop. “The Biso header in itself makes a difference, but in a crop that was over-ripe, the header losses were minimal, and we didn’t see the volunteers afterwards. We also didn’t seem to get those top burst pods you sometimes get when the pigeons land.

“I shall certainly be using it again this year.”