No one wants a crop that struggles to establish, but for many growers it is a distinct reality with potentially costly implications. It might not be possible to completely avoid a crop failure occurring, but it is possible to share the costs.
For Huntingdonshire farm manager, Russ McKenzie oilseed rape has come to represent a gamble where the odds are less than favourable. To increase his chances of success he has taken to spreading the risk among several varieties. Importantly, the varieties chosen are ones that have first proven themselves fit for his farm in his own variety trial.
This year the crop area will mostly be made up of conventional types with a small area of a Clearfield variety to help manage a charlock population in a specific field.
“The crop for this autumn will be spread between Blazen, Ballad, Asapire and Acacia. The spread of varieties is partly to promote consistency in a crop that has become highly inconsistent in recent years, but also because all have done well in our trials in recent years.
“A benefit of Blazen is that it is included in the KWS oilseed establishment partnership, OEP, which means the seed cost is split across two payments. If it doesn’t establish and has to be replaced the grower is not required to make the second payment. It appeals to my sense of shared responsibility,” says Mr McKenzie.
For harvest 2020 he plans to harvest nearly 40 ha of Blazen across two holdings. “OEP as a scheme fits well with contract farming arrangements while the performance of the variety over the past two years gives me the confidence that it will meet our expectations,” he adds.