Establishing Catch Crops

Peter Hitchcock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
I'm planning on drilling some catch crops after OSR and Winter Oats this year, but am wondering how to best get them established? I'm worried about volunteer OSR out competing the catch crop, so would it be best to wait for a chit of Rape volunteers, then either spray them off or take them out with a stubble rake before drilling the catch? Might I also have issues with volunteer oats that will then lead to frit fly in the following wheat crop?
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
By catch crop, I assume you mean for grazing, not just as a green cover?

If so, the stock will graze out any OSR volunteers in the winter, along with any oats, unless you are going to run a very low stocking rate.
 

Peter Hitchcock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
The plan is just for green cover, before drilling wheat in October. If I could get hold of some sheep I would be happy for them to graze however. Although there is buckwheat and linseed in the catch crop mix, which is toxic to sheep?
 

tw15

Member
Location
DORSET
Best to keep it simple just buy straights and mix your own large seeds like oats vetch peas etc spin on with fert spreader (you can easily spin on a 100 acres worth in no time . Then mix all small seeds and put them on with a slug pelleted on quad bike and just a very light disc and roll . jobs a good un .
 

Nzed

Member
Arable Farmer
I'm planning on drilling some catch crops after OSR and Winter Oats this year, but am wondering how to best get them established? I'm worried about volunteer OSR out competing the catch crop, so would it be best to wait for a chit of Rape volunteers, then either spray them off or take them out with a stubble rake before drilling the catch? Might I also have issues with volunteer oats that will then lead to frit fly in the following wheat crop?
Hi Peter, are you baling the oat straw? If the volunteers from the straw swath get too tall and thick in the catch crop then that could be where the wheat might struggle to establish. I did exactly this this year after oats but did graze with sheep. Drilled with a disc drill and the wheat is a bit slower in the old straw rows, (mid winter here now). What drill will you use to establish the wheat?
 

Peter Hitchcock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
Hi Peter, are you baling the oat straw? If the volunteers from the straw swath get too tall and thick in the catch crop then that could be where the wheat might struggle to establish. I did exactly this this year after oats but did graze with sheep. Drilled with a disc drill and the wheat is a bit slower in the old straw rows, (mid winter here now). What drill will you use to establish the wheat?
Yeah we will be baling the oat straw. The plan is to use the Claydon to drill the wheat, so I'm hoping not to have a cover with too much biomass so that the Claydon can handle it okay. What mixes are you using in catch crops?
 

Nzed

Member
Arable Farmer
Yeah we will be baling the oat straw. The plan is to use the Claydon to drill the wheat, so I'm hoping not to have a cover with too much biomass so that the Claydon can handle it okay. What mixes are you using in catch crops?
The mix between oats and ww had forage rape, pasja, buckwheat, phacelia and vetch. The grazing we get from this mix is very important hence the forage brassicas in there to get quick bulk. We don’t have osr anymore mainly because the brassica in our forage mixes is more important.
 

britt

Member
BASE UK Member
Your cover crops will not be in the ground for long enough to give much benefit. So keep the seed cost down. They are only really of benefit before a spring crop.
Most of this advice comes from France where the harvest is earlier and the cover crop has a reasonable amount of time in the ground before a winter crop.
Just use the OSR volunteers as a cover crop. The same may work for oats if disked lightly and rolled.
Too much advice is being given by those who have heard the theory, but not done it in practice to see the reality in this country.
Think twice about taking advice from anyone selling seed.
 

Charles Quick

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Somerset
Your cover crops will not be in the ground for long enough to give much benefit. So keep the seed cost down. They are only really of benefit before a spring crop.
Most of this advice comes from France where the harvest is earlier and the cover crop has a reasonable amount of time in the ground before a winter crop.
Just use the OSR volunteers as a cover crop. The same may work for oats if disked lightly and rolled.
Too much advice is being given by those who have heard the theory, but not done it in practice to see the reality in this country.
Think twice about taking advice from anyone selling seed.
If you can get cheap seed drilled early enough there certainly is a benefit
This was sunflower, phacelia, peas and buckwheat grown between OSR and Wheat last year:
(although I think it would've been a solid 6ft tall if I had given it 40kg N)
IMG_20201014_121036281 (1).jpg
 

Humble Village Farmer

Member
BASE UK Member
Your cover crops will not be in the ground for long enough to give much benefit. So keep the seed cost down. They are only really of benefit before a spring crop.
Most of this advice comes from France where the harvest is earlier and the cover crop has a reasonable amount of time in the ground before a winter crop.
Just use the OSR volunteers as a cover crop. The same may work for oats if disked lightly and rolled.
Too much advice is being given by those who have heard the theory, but not done it in practice to see the reality in this country.
Think twice about taking advice from anyone selling seed.
I agree with all that but sometimes it can be surprising how much biomass will grow by the end of September. I would get a cheap legume like vetch or spring beans , 3 or 4 kilos of linseed and a couple of kilos of sunflowers, maybe a pinch of phacelia. The rape is your cheapest component though and a valuable member of the team
 

penfold

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Halstead
I'm planning to do something similar this year with aim to produce a carpet for the Sly to drill through. We found that the drill ran much cleaner through volunteer mustard last year. My theory is if I can produce a carpet for the drill to run on we will be able to drill in less than ideal conditions and therefore be more comfortable in continuing pushing our drilling dates back.
Only on a small area this year to see if it works. Keeping costs down and buying straights so if it's looking like it wont work due to lack of moisture and/or late harvest date we can use it later in other mixes. Think we'll be going Buckwheat, Vetch, Phacelia and maybe some cheap and cheerful mustard. Might be a complete waste of time looking at a late harvest but if you don't try these things you'll always be asking what if.
 

Phil P

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North West
Just finished cutting winter barley and I’m also thinking of trying to get a cover in on a couple of fields before they go back into winter barley mid-late September.
Good warm seed beds at the moment
and plenty of moisture on the way over the next few days so excellent growing weather.

what’s best to go for to get maximum biomass in a short time period?

I’ve got some vetch and rye but was thinking maybe some mustard would bulk it up a bit? Is it worth a try?
 

Peter Hitchcock

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
japanese millet
sunflowers
field beans or peas
buckwheat

All very fast growers if the conditions are right, and all can be got either as FSS or bird seed
Are you buying sunflower seeds from a garden centre? And if so what is the germination of them like? I’m reluctant to pay £4+ a kilo from a merchant when they are £1ish from a garden centre.
 

Charles Quick

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Somerset
Are you buying sunflower seeds from a garden centre? And if so what is the germination of them like? I’m reluctant to pay £4+ a kilo from a merchant when they are £1ish from a garden centre.
I bought mine from a pet food wholesaler, minimum order was a tonne delivered as a pallet of 25kg bags. So if there's a few of you locally to share an order then it can work well. £600/t ish from memory, 99% germination on my batch, but your mileage may vary, if for example they have been through a drier
 

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