West: Oilseed rape has established well

Another autumn and another crop year comes round again. Harvest is largely complete save for a few acres of linseed. Variety performance trials results have been digested and we are starting to chew the fat on some of the fungicide data. 


Variety selection is best made on five years’ data rather than one – especially one like the season we have just had. Once again, farm performance of some varieties has exceeded variety trials figures, highlighting the difficulty of applying common management structures across a range of very different plant types. Finding varieties that suit your farm and learning how to grow them consistently well is integral to successful crop production.


Oilseed rape has established well here in the south west; high numbers of turnip saw fly on volunteers do not appear to have manifested themselves in the growing crop. August sowings have around three leaves and are growing strongly, while early/mid September crops are a little slower.


Volunteer cereals and grass-weeds have emerged rapidly. Many crops have had tepraloxydim materials to target blackgrass which despite, high dormancy predictions, is growing happily. No phoma leaf spotting is evident yet.


Conventional varieties are largely Cabernet and Vision, hybrids are Excalibur, Expower and Compass. We also have an appreciable area of semi dwarves so it was pleasing to see DK Sequoia’s good performance in this year’s trials.


Cereal drilling is under way and seed bills have been forced up by this year’s very high thousand grain weight. The highest I have seen is home-saved Gallant at 68g, necessitating a seed rate of 170kg/ha to sow 250 seeds/sq m.


Excellent seed-beds and accurate drilling to 40mm means slug activity is currently low. Our current main concern is finding a gap in the weather to apply pre-emergence blackgrass materials. Nowadays, it’s not just bales that are stacked!

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