The many challenges ahead for Oilseed Rape growers this year

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It seems like it takes a brave farmer to grow OSR these days. However, with the increasing pressure on farmers to extend their rotation to control blackgrass and improve soil health, break crops such as OSR must perform to combat these issues whilst also being profitable.

One of the challenges facing growers contemplating cropping decisions this year is the weather. With the unprecedented drought the UK has been suffering this summer, the question on all potential OSR growers’ minds is “will there be enough soil moisture available to get my OSR crop off to a good start if this drought continues?” A good seed bed is critical in these situations. But for those on heavy land, a good firm yet uncompacted seed bed can be a tall order. The answer may be in direct drilling where possible, but even then there is the next challenge of potentially fatal pest damage during establishment in the form of pigeons, slugs and now with the loss of neo-nicotinoid seed dressing, Cabbage Stem Flea (CSFB) beetle as well.

If that wasn’t enough there is also the sometimes underestimated competition pressures from weeds for nutrients, water and sunlight during establishment which can seriously effect yield. There are a growing number of pre and post emergence herbicide options, allowing grower’s a choice of actives and timings as long as stewardship guidelines are met in some cases. Clearfield Oilseed Rape varieties offer an alternative, especially when dealing with problem weeds like charlock, runch and HEAR OSR volunteers.

Many growers and agronomists are moving over to Clearfield choices this year with the hope that the early autumn vigour and the option of not having to spend money on a costly pre-emergence spray program makes the daunting challenge of growing OSR slightly less so. Plus the added bonus of removing sources of Euric acid which could potentially make the harvested seed unsaleable.

For more information on OSR varieties, slug control options and traditional pre and post emergence herbicides options please contact the Crop Production Teams at AF.

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Written by John Swire

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