Winter oilseed rape crop failure, due to a dry autumn and/or cabbage stem flea beetle attack, has prompted many growers in some areas of the country to look for alternatives. NIAB offers some top tips.
Climate, soil type, aspect are all factors that can affect whether a crop will thrive or struggle. It is important to understand your site and the requirements of any crops you are considering.
Understand the site’s weed burden, such as black-grass. Drilling dates and herbicide options may be important to optimise weed control for the whole rotation.
Understand the pests and disease cycles for existing crops so you can choose the correct crop to help break these cycles.
Many of the alternative break crops have no commodity markets. Talk to buyers, understand their needs. It is essential to have a market in place first.
The rotation should be planned to make the best use of the highest value crops. Look at the profitability of the rotation as a whole not just the break crop.
Some alternative crops need specialist equipment, drying or screening. Harvest and application times also need to fit with labour available.
Taking on a new crop can be risky. It always makes sense to find out about how others have managed. Learn as you go.