South: Oilseed rape up and away

More than 100 mm of August rain across much of my patch didn’t exactly make for an easy harvest. But it has given us another promising start to the new cropping season, with oilseed rape plantings well up on previous years.

Most of our rape is now in and growing away. We grow a significant proportion of vigorous hybrids like DK ExPower and Excalibur which I’m comfortable to sow up to the third week of September.


Although slugs are becoming more evident, rapid crop development means a single well-timed application of pellets should be enough to see most crops safely through to the two to three true leaf stage. We’re using higher quality pellets with low metaldehyde loadings wherever possible and, for particularly high-risk areas where a follow up is required, ferric phosphate, which SMART Farming trials have shown to be highly effective and compliant with the metaldehyde stewardship guidelines.

Lack of time prevented pre-ems going onto a lot of our rape. So we’re concentrating on being spot on with early post-em applications of metazachlor plus graminicide to tackle broadleaved weeds and cereal volunteers, in particular.

Despite the reported high dormancy season we’re seeing good blackgrass growth in many stale seedbeds, giving us the chance of a reasonable kill with Roundup Max ahead of cereal planting.

Even so, as we start on wheat drilling this week, the most effective in-crop weed control is uppermost in our minds. Based on extensive research findings from Stow Longa, we’re sowing the most competitive varieties at the most appropriate seed rates.

We’ll be building on this with robust pre-em programmes based on flufenacet + DFF, stacked with flurtamone or prosulfocarb depending on the blackgrass challenge.

We’ll be getting in with our post-ems early where necessary. Preventing yield losses from competition continues to be our first priority, and the past few seasons have made us acutely aware of how limited spring spraying opportunities can be.

The sort of climatic variability we’re seeing these days puts an even greater premium on the best possible autumn establishment and good root development in particular. With this in mind, any oilseed rape or cereals that need it will be getting a timely phosphite boost to their rooting with Nutriphite PGA in their early sprays. 

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