Some hard frosts during the second week of February caused a quandary, knowing it would be the only opportunity for a while to be able to travel and apply nitrogen. However, with heavy rain forecast to follow and with already saturated ground, I opted to keep the fertiliser in the bag.
Although it was the right decision, by the end of the month the crops were ready for their first feed. Luckily, a switch at the end of the month to an Easterly wind and the accompanying dry weather made a dramatic difference to ground conditions, allowing us to apply the first dose of our fertiliser programme. Sulfan was applied at 200kg/ha, providing 52kg/ha Nitrogen and 70kg/ha Sulpher. Given how at the beginning of the month the farm was probably as wet we have ever seen it, I was keen not to push my luck loading the spreader. Whilst not the most efficient way to do things, given I’m also the combine driver, it’s worth keeping the tramlines in good fettle!
Following a considerable fall both regionally and nationally of the oilseed rape acreage, the diluting effect of the neighbour’s crop when it comes to sharing pest pressure has also diminished. This certainly seemed to be the case with our crop in February, when a couple of hundred pigeons decided to dine on our brassicas. With bangers, bags and hawk eyes setup, they did appear to have a reasonable effect on keeping them moving. It’s a part of managing osr crops that often goes under accounted for, although I have to say it has been pleasing crop to monitor this winter. The even establishment delivering plants with excellent rooting and strong stems, its looks to be a crop with some promise.
With spring just around the corner, it was a good opportunity to dig out the knapsack sprayer and mark out our various trials. Including seed rates, row spacing and varieties. The varieties in trial had observable differences in the autumn, so it will be interesting to see how this translate to the spring vigour, a trait we hold in high regard as part of our approach to successful osr growing.
The cold weather had a noticeable effect of holding back the osr, with the beginnings of early stem extension only occurring during the last week of February, which at the same date last year it was knee high. As with the wheat, 200kg/ha Suflan was applied during the last week of the month, ensuring good reserves to maintain the rapid growth the plants are about to make.