Oilseed Rape Establishment 2023…. What have we learnt?

We are all too aware of the damage Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) can cause, it is fair to say that growers who have had no experience with this pest are few and far between and this year was no exception.

We started August with wet weather, which led to some growers drilling early to try and get the crop off and away from Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle. This has largely worked, consequently though there are some big canopies out there, which need to be carefully managed and growth regulators used where necessary.

Early August drilled Ambassador near Newbury, which is looking very well and was well enough established to grow through the main adult grazing period of cabbage stem flea beetle

Early August drilled Ambassador near Newbury looking very well and was well enough established to grow through the main adult grazing period of cabbage stem flea beetle

 

If there is a suspected high larvae count, work by AHDB does show that defoliation either through grazing or flailing can lead to a significant reduction in larvae – although caution needs applied, as this should not be considered after stem extension.

Then we had some hot weather towards the end of August. This undoubtedly drives flea beetle migration and activity, which yet again coincided around the bank holiday weekend. Crops drilled this year, 10 days before and days after the bank holiday weekend have struggled most, from what I have seen.

We then had wetter weather after the middle and end of September. This did lead to conducive growing conditions and these crops on the whole look okay, where not underwater. If crops are looking on the thin side, do not be disheartened just yet, OSR has an amazing ability to compensate for lost plants and fill-in gaps.

Slugs seem to have been more of a problem than Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle for some growers this year, thanks to weather conditions driving their activity. They really cannot be underestimated and require extreme vigilance early on.

In many cases, the crops were initially thinned by slugs and then the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle attacked. The areas most devasted by slug damage are generally on the clay soils. However, the greatest risk and the most damage occurred where crops had been direct drilled with no tillage. In my opinion, any crop direct drilled – be it OSR, cereals or grass seed – increases the risk of slug damage significantly, compared to conventional establishment techniques.

We have all been aware of the cover crops and the use of slurry and digestate to deter the beetles, but I thought by far the most interesting piece of research this year was showing how beetle numbers can be reduced by cultivating the ground straight after harvest and during peak adult migration.

This would also have the added bonus of reducing slug numbers, which are always a significant nuisance to the following wheat crop.

Meet our new seed specialist for the North West, George Hall

I am delighted to have started my new role as a Seed Specialist at Nickerson.

I will be covering the North West, North Wales and North Shropshire areas. Since graduating with a BSc Agricultural degree, I had been working on the family farm, which is a 300-acre arable and livestock enterprise where we run 100 Hereford cows and 300 sheep.

We crop approximately 100 acres of the farm annually, this year we will be growing LG Typhoon winter wheat and LG Caravelle winter barley, which will be used on the farm for livestock feed, with excess sold into the feed market.

The livestock enterprise is run with an emphasis placed on maximising daily live weight gain from forage. We improve grazing leys through over seeding on rotation, in addition to including high yielding grass mixtures, as part of the arable rotation for ensiling.

I am excited to meet my customer base throughout the area and assist you with fulfilling your farms’ potential.

If there is anything I can help you with, please do not hesitate to contact me on 07860 590 412 or george.hall@nickerson.co.uk

A word from Sean Lovegreen as we go into harvest 23

What a difference a year can make! July 2022 saw a record-breaking temperature of over 400C. This year, in stark contrast we have just endured one of the wettest Julys ever recorded, adding pressure and complication to both harvest and sowing. Whilst moisture is a key driver to establishing OSR it’s also a huge challenge when trying to harvest nearly twelve months of hard work and investment. Fortunately, LG genetics can help de-risk some of the challenges with such traits as pod shatter resistance and high vigour in our OSR, or standing power, sprouting resistance, harvest date and disease resistance in autumn cereals. Whilst we have no influence on the weather, we can make a big difference with the choices we make when selecting varieties for the next season. Which is where dealing with a Nickerson Seed Specialist can have a positive effect on helping growers select the correct varieties to maximise the benefit from strong LG genetics.