With oilseed rape continuing to prove a valuable break crop, we hear how variety choice can transform how growers approach their OSR management. Mollie Leach reports.
The vigour and traits Clearfield varieties offer combine to produce a high gross output, according to arable manager Jon Fountain, and have therefore become an integral part of the rotation for the past four years.
Managing the 1,000-hectare Sentry managed joint venture in Hampshire, Agrii grower Mr Fountain said BASF’s InVigor (InV1266) Clearfield (CL) variety, in particular, had proved to be instrumental to his integrated approach to growing the crop.
“This year is our first harvest using the high vigour InV1266 OSR over 40 hectares.
“CL opens up the option to make more use of companion crops in the rotation and serves as a vital tool in tackling problematic brassica weeds, such as Charlock,” he said.
The Clearfield system also helped to reduce the potential contamination coming from volunteer HEAR oilseed rape and brassica weeds high in eurucic acid, he said.
BASF business development manager Clare Tucker echoed this: “Clearfield herbicides allow for timely weed removal and have the widest spectrum of any herbicide, including brassica weeds mentioned.
“In early drilled crops, weeds, such as charlock and chickweed, get big quickly and need timely removal.
“Volunteer rape can also be a problem, causing over thick plant populations and not achieving the strong plant in the spring we are after.
Clearfield herbicides help us to achieve this,” she said.
The ability to control such weeds early on without the added front-loading costs of pre-emergence herbicides earlier in the programme also made the CL variety a ‘flexible’ option.
“This is our third harvest using buckwheat as a companion crop; we will grow CL oilseed rape followed by winter barley.
We will then apply manure and direct drill the buckwheat in early August, a week before the oilseed rape.
“The InV1266 variety has got away well and gives us confidence to implement companion cropping, which is sometimes the difference between failure and a profitable crop,” Mr Fountain added.
Once the buckwheat has provided the early benefits it is removed by the herbicide before it causes excessive crop competition.
Addressing the link between drill date and disease pressure, Mr Fountain highlighted the fast autumn growth of InV1266 as a trait which had made the variety particularly attractive when looking to mitigate the risks posed by cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB).
“The variety can be drilled any time from August up until the second or third week in September, which allows us to adopt a flexible approach to pest management,” he said.
Ms Tucker added the battle against CSFB was not only about reducing the damage from adult feeding but also about improving the resilience of the plant to tolerate the larvae in the spring.
“We’ve a fighting chance of doing this if we aim for a moderate seed rate, fast and even emergence, and good autumn vigour to establish strong individual plants in the spring.
"Clearfield herbicides allow for timely weed removaland have the widest spectrum of any herbicide."
“Well rooted, thick stemmed plants can tolerate a higher number of larvae and still yield.
This agronomic approach of attention to detail worked in pre-CSFB days, we’re finding that it’s even more relevant in our new world of living with CSFB,” she said.
And with more than 16 Clearfield hybrids available for autumn 2021, many growers will be able to benefit from varieties that have good autumn vigour and which are up on yield compared with conventional varieties, Ms Tucker highlighted.
“BASF’s InV1266CL provides the flexibility to vary drill date to target good drilling conditions.
“If growing conditions are good in the second week of August and it is before the CSFB migration, then the seed rate can always be reduced.
If drilling needs to be delayed then it will still perform,” she said.
Ms Tucker also noted all CL hybrids were unhindered by the risk of SU residues affecting emergence and early crop growth, therefore increasing the chances of strong establishment.
And with InV1266 allowing for greater use of companion crops within the rotation, Mr Fountain noted insecticide costs had also been reduced.
“If the crops are lost to CSFB adults then, the buckwheat helps to provide a cover short-term; I then have the option to possibly change tack and drill a spring crop or a winter cereal.”
Reinforcing the importance of variety choice for efficient establishment and weed control, Mr Fountain said: “We are going to roll the InV1266 out to 50ha next year and include it on another farm that we manage locally, which hasn’t grown rape for three years.
“We are happy to take a calculated risk on the basis that this variety has established so well this year – our average yield is 3.5 tonnes/ha and we are quietly confident we will beat our budget once the crop has been harvested.”
Ms Tucker reassured growers that if the crop did fail in the autumn, however, the InVigor varieties were covered by the BASF OSR Establishment Risk Share programmes.
BASF: InV1266CL, InV1166CL
Corteva: PT279CL, PX125CL
Dekalb: DK Imprint CL, DK Imove CL, DK Immortal CL (Limited), DK Imperial CL, DK Impressario CL, DK Impression CL
DSV: Matrix CL, Plurax CL
KWS: Himmedia CL
Limagrain: Conrad CL, LG Constructor CL
RAGT Seeds: RGT Nizza CL
We are on a mission to champion OSR.
Together with UK growers, industry experts, scientists and agronomists, we are going to unlock the full potential of this profitable crop.
At BASF, we already have strong and proven solutions for OSR, with more waiting in our promising innovation pipeline.
But we also understand true success requires a holistic approach, and chemistry can only be one part of it.
That’s why the BASF Real Results Circle gets involved.
Through facilitating professional and practical knowledge exchange, we are going to strengthen UK growers’ confidence in growing OSR and help maximise profitability to give OSR the attention it deserves.
From now on we will Champion OSR Together.
>>To find out more about the BASF OSR initiative, visit agricentre.basf.co.uk/en/Real-Results-Circle