Building on an excellent harvest
At an over-the-weighbridge average of 4.74 t/ha our winter rape harvest was more than half a tonne a hectare ahead of the previous year. Which was particularly pleasing as our 2014 crop was itself well up on the five year farm average.
Virgin rape ground clearly played its part here. Even so, the crop was on a north-facing bank and its distance from home meant we couldn’t give it the continuous attention so often necessary to keep pigeons at bay.
That’s why we stuck with the hybrid get-up-and-go of DK ExPower for the bulk of our acreage. At 4.72 t/ha it certainly didn’t disappoint. But we’ve replaced the lot this year simply because the 4 ha of DK Exalte we grew alongside it under the same conditions averaged 4.86 t/ha. This is just the sort of breeding progress I like to see; especially so as the new hybrid adds valuable extra light leaf spot resistance to the established set of Dekalb traits.
Like last season, the crop went in after Volume barley harvested in mid-July, giving us plenty of time for a good round of pre-planting glyphosate ahead of sowing behind the legs of our Cousins V-Form from August 22.
There was plenty enough moisture in the ground for rapid germination and the 52-54 seeds/m2 we put in came through well. The crops were clearly slower getting going in the chaff swaths behind the combine – as we bale all our straw we don’t have a chopper/spreader. The final field we drilled on August 26 after a rain delay was also noticeably slower to take off. It’s amazing how much difference a bit of chaff or a few days can make; especially with nights as cold as we had in early September.
Having said that, everything has evened-up nicely by the end of September and the first two weeks of October have seen it grow away rapidly to present a nice thick and hopefully pigeon-restricting crop.
Interestingly, pigeons became very tiresome on a couple of our fields in early October with big flocks taking a lot of shooting effort to move on. Thankfully, we haven’t seen any problems since. So it looks like the extra crop cover is doing the trick.
Finger crossed, we again seem to have escaped serious flea beetle problems. A single insecticide with our mid-September graminicide – to deal with the inevitable hybrid barley volunteers more than anything else – was all we needed to combat minor leaf shot-holing. Not using any seedbed N, we added a dose of phosphite to the mix here to give a timely boost to rooting.
We’ve only needed a single pelleting to combat slug damage to date too. And we’re just getting set to apply what will be our only autumn fungicide. The very strong phoma resistance we have means we’re nowhere near thresholds yet, despite all the early disease risk warnings. So the combination of prochloraz and tebuconazole we’ll be applying in late October/early November is designed to give us useful growth regulation and – most importantly these days – early light leaf spot protection.
Pre-planting glyphosate is valuable, but no August application can hope to deal with the levels of black-grass we have in places. Much of it simply germinates too late. Recognising this, we patch-treated any bad areas with clethodim at the end of September.
This has held the weed growth back nicely, allowing our rapidly-developing crop to exert its full competitive effect here as well as with the pigeons, slugs and beetles. Most importantly, it’s giving us the leeway we need to wait until the weather gets cold enough for the best and longest activity from our propyzamide. Which will round off our OSR fieldwork until the spring.