With growers dropping oilseed rape from their rotations, a shortage of bean seed and uncertain returns from oats and niche crops in the absence of a contract, finding a suitable break crop is proving a challenge, particularly for those without the option of potatoes or sugar beet.
Moist, warm conditions mean some growers are still considering sowing oilseed rape, says Mr Harker. “CSFB seems to be sporadic. Just because it’s September you don’t need to give up on it [OSR]. A good hybrid variety would suit this timing. It would also bring land back into a proper rotation.”
Growers contemplating winter beans as a break crop could struggle to find seed, says Mr Harker. “We are already seeing difficulties in sourcing bean seed. It has not been a great harvest. There may be a derogation to allow acceptance of lower germination.”
Barry Barker, arable seed manager, Agrii says there is not enough bean seed, winter or spring, to cover what growers want. “We stopped selling beans a few weeks ago as we thought there would be issues with quality and also yield, with demand outstripping supply.”
Some growers are opting for winter oats as a break crop which is putting pressure on seed availability, says Mr Knight. “If you grow them, you need to have a sense of end market opportunities. Also, with more niche break crops the challenge is having a reliable end market to sell them in to.”
Where cereals are sown after cereals, factors such as grass-weeds and the risk of take-all need to be taken into account, he says. “Remember that spring barley is still a cereal and will host the take-all fungus. Also last winter was warm and wet with less natural killing off of the fungus in the soil. There will also be a short gap between harvesting the spring crop and drilling the new autumn crop so the disease gap will be shorter.”