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Growers unable to drill oilseed rape until last month due to the wet summer can rest assured that sowing the crop in September is... Late-drilled rape can still be profitable

Growers unable to drill oilseed rape until last month due to the wet summer can rest assured that sowing the crop in September is not necessarily a bad thing.

Later drilled oilseed rape can still produce a profitable crop – if it is a phoma-resistant hybrid variety variety with vigorous development, says Chris Guest, managing director of LS Plant Breeders.

Weather data shows that September-drilled rape is still an option, says Mr Guest, who has analysed daily temperatures or the last two autumns at LSPB headquarters in Impington, near Cambridge.

Analysis shows that temperatures totalled 1,131°C between the start of September and end of November in 2021 and 1,163°C for the same period in 2022. This is more than ample for successful rapeseed development, says Mr Guest.

“If we want to reach the 8-leaf stage with a robust plant based on 8mm root neck diameter and a tap root of more than 8 cm before winter, we have to accumulate 150°C for germination and around 120-150°C per leaf pair.

“Calculating both figures together, we need minimum 750°C for a sufficient development before winter, and based on the temperature data from Impington, we can still reach that stage, even with ultra-late sowing dates going right up to the end of September.

Caution needed

“There are a number of provisos. Most important is to say that late sowing is advisable only for hybrid varieties with their vigorous development, Also that late sown oilseed rape crops are more at risk to phoma, so a good phoma rating is advised.”

LSPB hybrid Murray, with its vigorous growth habit and exceptional RlmS phoma resistance, is a good example of a variety suited to late drilling – depending on farm location and adjustments like modifying your sowing rate.

“In a challenging season like this, it is worthwhile considering late sowing if your temperature data is comparable with ours from Impington,” says Mr Guest, who points out that many growers now have their own weather station.

“It means you can look at your own historic information as well as our data to make an informed decision about how late rape can be drilled and still establish successfully.”

Winning oilseed rape results from LSPB Vegas

A winning performance by winter oilseed rape Vegas in Agrii trials reinforces the variety’s position on the AHDB Recommended List, says breeder LSPB.

“Vegas was a top yielding variety in Agrii trials in both 2023 and in 2022 with an excellent disease profile and outstanding late season stem health,” says David Leaper, Agrii’s technical manager for oilseeds (pictured above).

“This year there has been lots of late season disease, and filling seed late in the season is where stem health is particularly important. And in a year where we have seen a wet harvest, it is notable that Vegas has stayed green.”

Agrii national trials in 2023 and 2022 saw Vegas ranked as a top variety for gross output – with a very high oil content in both years. The variety performed consistently in both years, says Mr Leaper.

“Looking at the overall characters, our trials show that Vegas is suitable for all soils and regions of the UK, with a fast speed of development in the autumn and early, vigorous regrowth in the spring.”

Disease resistance

The variety produces a relatively compact canopy is very stiff, with medium maturity, says Mr Leaper.

“Disease resistance includes the highest possible RLmS stem canker resistance and a very robust light leaf spot rating. Vegas also has excellent tolerance to Verticillium wilt with noticeably much greener stems.”

LSPB managing director Chris Guest says the variety’s RlmS phoma resistance is a big player in strong stem health. “This clearly has a positive influence on its good disease scores and, in particular, helps the fight against late season stem disease.

“While we do not claim Vegas as having pod-shatter resistance, we don’t think that it is quite as cut and dry as yes/no when it comes to minimising pod-shatter, says Mr Guest.

“The variety’s good overall stem health is also important.”