SIGNS are growing that oilseed rape performance could partly offset poor barley results in the south.
Yields of 3.7-4.9t/ha (30-40cwt/ acre) in Kent are encouraging, says Allied Grains Hugh Schryver. "They are better than last year."
Wilts-based colleague Nick Oakhill believes more northerly crops could outstrip those in Hants where mean yield is about 3.2t/ha (26cwt/acre). "But Gloucestershire is only averaging 23-24cwt/acre."
"We have been getting weighbridge yields of 23-28cwt/acre where we normally get 21-22," says Oxon-based Robert Kerr of Glencore Grain. "Plenty of people are nudging 30cwt/acre. Rape could be a good crop."
Rape yields are about 0.6t/ha (5cwt/acre) up on last year, reports Jonathan Hoyland of Banks Southern. "We have been averaging 1.3-1.6t/acre with one or two crops of 1.9." Even at current prices that adds an extra £74/ha (£30/acre) to the bottom line, he points out.
Barometer grower Bill Harbour is well pleased with initial rape results at Gosmere Farm, Faversham. Last years average, including some hybrid Synergy, was 4.4t/ha (36cwt/acre). "This year our first 8.5ha of Apex has done 39cwt/acre and the 2.8ha of hybrid Pronto alongside gave us 43cwt/acre. Brilliant." Neighbour Roger Scutt achieved over 4.9t/ha (2t/acre) of Apex, he notes.
Mr Harbours achievement partly compensates for Regina winter barley which did 8.3t/ha (3.4t/acre), but failed to make malting grade due to 1.9-2%N.
Winter barley and oilseed rape yields are very much on a par with budgeted yields, reports Cotswolds-based Tim Brown of RNT Farming. "Our Fanfare and Gleam did 7-7.5t/ha, which is a bit below normal. Our Apex and Amber oilseed rape on light soils are just under 3t/ha – spot on normal. But I have heard of some poor yields in oilseed rape round here."
Small grains saw Puffin struggle to make 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) on Robert Manns Woolpack Farm, Fletching, East Sussex. However "nice, plump berries" on Fighter made up for that. The variety topped 7.4t/ha (3t/acre), slightly down on last year, but above average, he says.