March 30, 2010


UK rapeseed crops put on a growth surge



The UK's oilseed rape crop has transformed itself from post-winter lethargy to full speed aheads in less than a week, according to one agronomist.


"The rapeseed crops I've walked this week have turned the corner from an overwinter green area index of 0.4 to 0.6 in the space of three to four days; so it makes the March biomass trigger of 0.8 for a canopy management fungicide almost inevitable," says Agrovista's Mark Hemmant.


Hemmant added that the underlying root systems for most rapeseed crops are very well established which will encourage further rapid growth following the rise in soil temperature and early nitrogen applications.


The added pressure for this season is that many growers increased seed rates following the memory of the wet cold autumn of 2008.


According to Andrew Blenkiron, who grows 220 hectares of rapeseed in Dorset, every seed planted last autumn has grown and produced a viable plant. The net result is a lot of thick canopies with plant populations of 20 per square metre compared with about 10 per square metre in 2009.


"Crops established very well and rocketed away last autumn, and despite the cold winter the populations are still there," Blenkiron says. "After the winter plants are greening in the centre, they are robust and look like they have the potential to yield very well."

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