Ahead of the Easter weekend, as temperatures were building, I applied Nitram at 300kg/ha on 9th April. The Winter Wheat soaked up the sun and soil temperatures steadily rose and April looked set to be warm.
Coming into the month clean, the wheat really began to motor with the combination of longer days and plenty of moisture beneath their roots thanks to being drilled direct into stubbles and retaining structured soil between the rows. With such a dry month, disease pressure remained low and with good numbers of tillers, we were keen to keep them moving forward. Targeting leaf 3, the T1 fungicide was applied on the 16th April plus a 3C PGR and Manganese mix to deal with any latent pressure and to keep the key yield building green tissue clean.
The beginning of the month saw 66kg/ha of nitrogen applied to the oilseed rape, bringing the total to 200kg/ha.
From a distance, our oilseed rape crops had that familiar yellow tinge as they moved to the yellow bud stage in April. I stepped up the monitoring of pollen beetle and although present, they remained in low numbers. As a result, I took the decision not to spray the crop, especially as they were soon to become pollinators. April’s warm and dry weather proved to be ideal for an excellent extended flowering period, achieving good pod set throughout the crop.
The biggest difference to the crop this year is crop height. The growing conditions of the previous six months of mild and of course, damp winter, appeared to manifest itself most obviously with crop height, being some 10-20% shorter than we would normally expect. With plenty of growing still left to do on the crop, it has branched well – promoted by excellent light penetration of the wider 66cm row centres created by the Mzuri Pro-Til.
The top ridge plots of OSR, with a combination of Campus and Expedient had a wider spread of flowering dates, with the Campus being approximately 7 days later than it’s hybrid counterpart. With this in mind and with the potential for some rain, Pictor was applied as a mid-flowering fungicide. The remainder of the OSR cropping around the farm comprises mainly of Expedient, so I took the view that the risk of infection would be low and avoided another pass and an additional cost.
Whilst oilseed rape is seen as an increasingly trying crop to grow, once established it is surprising just how resilient it can be and certainly one that can be deceiving to the eye about its potential yield. By securing excellent establishment we certainly haven’t seen the back of it on this farm.