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Regardless of when oilseed rape is sown, soil management expert, Phillip Wright identifies a number of essentials to achieving the reliable and even establishment critical to success.

  • Well-structured, biologically-active soils without compaction are fundamental, together with sufficient moisture in the sowing zone for rapid and robust establishment.
  • Fine, well-firmed soil in the immediate vicinity of the small seed is particularly important for the best seed-to-soil contact.
  • Vital too is preserving seedbed moisture with the least surface disturbance at drilling rapidly followed by effective consolidation – which also restricts slug activity.
  • If not removed, cereal straw needs to be thoroughly chopped and evenly spread to avoid interference with drilling and reduce slug shelter.
  • As well as vigorously establishing, varieties should be matched to drilling date and conditions for a number of key characteristics, including speed of early development.
  • Seed rates leading to higher-than-ideal plant populations should be avoided to ensure the most productive canopies and stems with the least susceptibility to CSFB larval damage.
  • Because increasing the plant population has not been found to reduce the number of larvae/plant it only serves to increase larval numbers/m2 and future pest pressures.
  • Seed rates also need to be carefully matched to row widths to minimise the inter-row competition known to negatively affect performance.
  • A consistently shallow sowing depth is important to ensure the rapid and even crop emergence that provides the best defence against early CSFB attack.
  • Seedbed nitrogen and phosphate are especially valuable where minimal soil disturbance and previous crop residues temporarily restrict available nitrogen.

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