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Oilseed Rape

We know that growing oilseed rape can be challenging so we have gathered together everything you need to know about oilseed rape here. From establishment to harvest we can provide insight about crop management and protection to help maximise yields.

Posted 3 weeks ago


What’s happening in oilseed rape in April

Although oilseed rape crops are variable this spring due to establishment and/or cabbage stem flea beetle damage, most are now at green bud and the most advanced are at early flowering. Some crops have been written off due to poor establishment or the fact that they are carrying far too many cabbage stem flea beetle larvae to make a viable crop.

March’s SpotCheck initiative results have shown that light leaf spot is prevalent throughout the country and with most crops being at least at stem extension, it’s important to apply fungicides now to prevent further damage.

Over the next month Sclerotinia sprays will be at the front of people’s minds. If it stays mild, the earliest oilseed rape crops will be flowering by the second to third week of April.

Priorities this month (location dependent):

  • Address pest and disease risk in OSR
  • Plan flowering sprays in oilseed rape
  • Monitor backward OSR plants for pollen beetle
  • Protect OSR from Sclerotinia with a two-spray fungicide


What’s happening in oilseed rape in May

Results from the SpotCheck initiative has shown that light leaf spot is now present across most of the country, from Scotland to Dorset and Hampshire.

As a result, it is vital to walk fields and assess disease presence within the crop. Look for tiny white spore droplets on the leaf surface, which can sometimes appear in a circular pattern, on the upper or underside of the leaf.

Where light leaf spot in present, there is an opportunity to utilise prothioconazole at this timing to dampen down the disease and manipulate the canopy.

Priorities this month (location dependent):

  • Utilise the free SpotCheck initiative to assess light leaf spot in the crop
  • Walk crops to assess disease severity within the crop and spray if necessary
  • Consider prothioconazole to manage light leaf spot at stem extension


What’s happening in oilseed rape in June/July

The gate is almost shut on oilseed rape until the combines start rolling in July and August, with only harvesting plans and whether to apply a pod sticker left to decide upon.

While swathing and direct combining are options, most growers usually apply a desiccant.

Timing of glyphosate applications could be tricky this season, as crops affected by flea beetle or pigeon damage are very uneven. Going too early risks both limiting oil content and increasing the risk of immature red seed at harvest, while late applications may see increased losses from pod shatter.

The key thing is to carefully walk crops properly to assess them efficiently. There might be a huge difference between how a crop looks in the gateway and 100m away in the middle of the field.

Priorities this month (location dependent):

  • Walk OSR crops carefully and ensure crops are sampled correctly to get desiccation timing correct
  • Consider using  a premium glyphosate formulation such as Roundup Powermax or Roundup Flex for the fastest and most consistent results.


What’s happening in oilseed rape in August

Depending on location and weather, oilseed rape harvest may either be complete or still ongoing. Likewise for many establishing next season’s crop will begin this month.

With many areas now at risk from cabbage stem flea beetle attack, choosing a vigorous hybrid variety with rapid leaf development can help limit pest damage. But it is important to get the crop off to the best possible start by drilling in the best possible conditions for fast establishment, so monitor soil moisture and seed-beds carefully. The use of starter fertiliser will also help get the crop established quicker.

Phoma risk is driven by August rainfall. A catchy harvest is likely to mean an increased risk of early Phoma infections, so it’s also worth considering a variety with good Phoma resistance to reduce risk.

Priorities this August (location dependent):

  • Finish OSR harvest
  • Choose an appropriate variety and establish the crop in best possible conditions 
  • Monitor weather to assess Phoma risk



What’s happening in oilseed rape in September

Oilseed rape drilling has been progressing across the country. For those that drilled in August, the hot weather across the August bank holiday was not helpful for oilseed rape establishment where crops were at cotyledon stage, with a surge in attacks from cabbage stem flea beetles (CSFB).

In September, the remaining crops will be drilled. How late you can drill in September will depend on what part of the country you farm. In this month, as in August, it is all about getting the crop away – so take advantage of good soil conditions and consider variety choice carefully – a vigorous hybrid could be beneficial.

Pay careful attention to how the crop is establishing and any factors that may be impacting growth such as pests and weeds. Be particularly mindful of cabbage stem flea beetle and think carefully about insecticide applications. Remember many CSFB populations can be resistant to pyrethroids, so always use an integrated pest management approach.

If growing multiple varieties on-farm, compare progression in the early stages, above and below ground, as this could help inform both crop management this season and next season’s variety choices.

Priorities this month (location dependent):

  • Finish drilling OSR
  • Walk crop and assess establishment
  • Assess weed risk and monitor for cereal volunteers
  • Monitor pests and if necessary, consider control options  


The Big Picture Oilseed Rape

Through extensive analysis of national independent data from the past five seasons, this report shows the impact of the challenges faced when growing oilseed rape, and how you have responded.

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Identification and Management of OSR diseases

Find out more information on the key disease threats to your oilseed rape crop. For each disease you will find out the importance of the disease in terms of potential yield penalty, how to identify the disease in its early stages and our advice on the best control strategies.

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