Winter linseed looks OK – but its not spring yet

31 January 1997




Winter linseed looks OK – but its not spring yet

By Andrew Blake

EARLY signs are that winter linseed has survived recent frosts and snow quite well. But NIAB warns that spring has not yet arrived.

The crop has seized growers imagination, expanding from just 2000ha (5000 acres) to an estimated 30,000ha (74,000 acres) this season. Early harvest is a key attraction, says Semundos Fiona Davies.

Some crops, notably in the east, where it remained dry throughout the autumn, are quite short and look rather sickly, she concedes. "But that needs keeping in perspective, because a lot of wheat and oilseed rape also suffered."

This seasons frosts came a month earlier than in 1995, she notes.

There are mixed reports of pigeon damage. In some cases growing tips have been taken. But elsewhere it seems the pests have been feeding on chickweed and volunteer oilseed rape in weedy crops, says Mrs Davies.

Scottish stands appear to be pulling through quite well, she adds. Huw Phillips of Scottish Agronomy, which has sequential sowings of Oliver in East Fife and Roxburgh, confirms that view. "As last year the October sowings look a bit dicey," he says.

NIAB winter linseed trials at Cambs, Hants, Norfolk, Yorkshire, and in collaboration with SAC in Scotland, are painting much the same picture as last year, says the institutes Simon Kightley. "But winter is not over. By and large winter types like Oliver, Arctica and Nordica have survived," he says. "But damage which may have occurred may not have completely shown up, and I think some plants could still go downhill and disappear.

"We have a range of varieties and others are showing a range of frost hardiness. Bolas, Linda and a couple of others were not damaged until the second set of frosts."

Pigeons should not cause too much trouble, given the crops ability to branch again from soil level, he believes. But seed rate, remains open to question."There is still plenty of work to be done."

Early sowings of Arctica, Fjord, Nordica and Oliver are doing remarkably well at Throws Farm, Essex, says Dalgetys Mike Jeffes. "We are really pleased with the way they have come through." Later drillings (Oct/Nov) as expected are disappointing.

lFirst-time grower and former northern barometer Michael Manners is happy with his late-Sept-sown Oliver at Coniliffe Grange near Darlington. Main concern had been that the crop would be too small entering the winter. "But it is OK. I have heard reports of pigeons, but we have had no problems here." &#42

By Andrew Blake

EARLY signs are that winter linseed has survived recent frosts and snow quite well. But NIAB warns that spring has not yet arrived.

The crop has seized growers imagination, expanding from just 2000ha (5000 acres) to an estimated 30,000ha (74,000 acres) this season. Early harvest is a key attraction, says Semundos Fiona Davies.

Some crops, notably in the east, where it remained dry throughout the autumn, are quite short and look rather sickly, she concedes. "But that needs keeping in perspective, because a lot of wheat and oilseed rape also suffered."

This seasons frosts came a month earlier than in 1995, she notes.

There are mixed reports of pigeon damage. In some cases growing tips have been taken. But elsewhere it seems the pests have been feeding on chickweed and volunteer oilseed rape in weedy crops, says Mrs Davies.

Scottish stands appear to be pulling through quite well, she adds. Huw Phillips of Scottish Agronomy, which has sequential sowings of Oliver in East Fife and Roxburgh, confirms that view. "As last year the October sowings look a bit dicey," he says.

NIAB winter linseed trials at Cambs, Hants, Norfolk, Yorkshire, and in collaboration with SAC in Scotland, are painting much the same picture as last year, says the institutes Simon Kightley. "But winter is not over. By and large winter types like Oliver, Arctica and Nordica have survived," he says. "But damage which may have occurred may not have completely shown up, and I think some plants could still go downhill and disappear.

"We have a range of varieties and others are showing a range of frost hardiness. Bolas, Linda and a couple of others were not damaged until the second set of frosts."

Pigeons should not cause too much trouble, given the crops ability to branch again from soil level, he believes. But seed rate, remains open to question."There is still plenty of work to be done."

Early sowings of Arctica, Fjord, Nordica and Oliver are doing remarkably well at Throws Farm, Essex, says Dalgetys Mike Jeffes. "We are really pleased with the way they have come through." Later drillings (Oct/Nov) as expected are disappointing.

lFirst-time grower and former northern barometer Michael Manners is happy with his late-Sept-sown Oliver at Coniliffe Grange near Darlington. Main concern had been that the crop would be too small entering the winter. "But it is OK. I have heard reports of pigeons, but we have had no problems here." &#42

The good, the bad and the ugly. Last winter gave autumn-sown linseed a harsh test, particularly these plots at ADAS Bridgets. This year could be even more revealing.


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