In stark contrast to last year’s crop, sufficient moisture in August has meant early-sown oilseed rape crops have grown through the ‘danger period’.
In the Midlands, most crops drilled in the early part of August have got away well and are around 3-4 true leaves, while crops drilled after have struggled much more with dry weather and cabbage stem flea beetle attack.
This is according to Bayer technical specialist, Ben Giles who says the oilseed rape area is down around 25 per cent on last year, with around 50 per cent of growers giving it another go.
He says: “Some of the early drilled crops have got away really well, to the extent there have even been conversations about growth regulators. My opinion is that unless it very ‘growey’ I think you would be very brave to put on a growth regulator in the autumn because you just do not know what is going to happen to the crop in terms of pest through to spring.
“Many growth regulators are applied too late anyway – they need to be targeted around the 4-6 leaf stage to give the greatest benefits.”
Phoma is also a concern for some growers, Mr Giles adds.
“Growers are talking about the economics of an autumn fungicide. If you have got phoma on small plants that will need to be the priority, but if we do not see it [phoma] for a while yet and plants get sizeable then you can be more relaxed about it, as it does take time to get down into a petiole. In that situation you can probably consider a one-hit [fungicide] in late October/early November for both phoma and light leaf spot.”