OSR crop losses, including patchiness in fields, could be up to 10 per cent for harvest 2019. AHDB analyst Alice Bailey says the OSR crop area for 2019 was already down 3 per cent on 2018 at 582,000ha.
Information from ADAS’s crop development reports and agronomists indicates that 8 per cent of the crop has been lost over winter, leaving 535,000ha. “Most of this has been replaced completely with either a winter crop when it was lost early or a spring crop due to issues over winter,” says Miss Bailey.
More recently, agronomists have reported patchiness in OSR crops which could amount to a further 2 per cent loss, leaving 523,000ha, says Miss Bailey.
The crop loss is due to an accumulation of issues, she adds. “There were some really dry areas at the end of last summer and poor establishment rates contributed to some of the losses. Cabbage stem flea beetle was also a big problem and pigeon damage - slow growth caused a lot of problems throughout winter and crop development has not managed to get to where it is supposed to be.”
Cold weather in April also led to a prolonged flowering period, adding to patchiness, she says.
Currently it is difficult to say whether 2018/19 crop losses will discourage farmers from growing OSR for harvest 2020, says Miss Bailey. “It raises alarm bells for farmers and may have a slight effect on next year’s plans.”