Winner of the 2019 Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) Gold Award, Richard Budd discusses how he gets the best performance from oilseed rape.
Whilst many oilseed rape growers seem to always be chasing the ‘next best thing’, if something works well then you should stick with it, believes Kent grower Richard Budd.
It’s a philosophy that has certainly delivered results with his crop of the conventional variety Campus achieving 7.19t/ha, representing 85% of its theoretical potential of 8.4t/ha, winning the YEN Gold Award in the ‘Best Field Yield’ category in 2019.
OSR remains a staple for the busines with the five-year yield average being 5.0 to 5.5t/ha, but balancing variety, cultivation method and drilling date is key, Richard says.
“Oilseed rape used to be grown here one year in five, but we have extended that to one in seven because anything less causes a drop-off in yield and increases the incidence of blackgrass.
“After the wet autumn of 2013 and the banning of neonicotinoid insecticide seed dressings on oilseed rape in December that year we switched from a min-till cultivation system to strip seeding.
“We also started drilling later, because experience had shown that when sowing during the third week of August about 25% of the crop failed and had to be redrilled.
“That became apparent almost by accident after oilseed rape drilling was delayed due to a crop of spring oats being harvested very late. It was 21 September before the oilseed rape went in, but it yielded 5.6t/ha.
“Since we began drilling later we’ve not had a single crop failure. We try to sow just after rain or when rain is due so there is enough moisture in the soil to allow the seed to grow away rapidly.
The aim is to establish 100 plants/m2 as this produces a crop with enough canopy to outcompete weeds and deliver high yields, he explains.
“Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle is our primary concern and delaying drilling until the third week of September helps with that. Over the last few years we have missed the peak influx and this season we have seen virtually none.
“There are no other particular pest or disease issues and in most cases a standard fungicide programme is sufficient.
“Our aim is grow oilseed rape as cheaply as possible, so even for the crop which won the YEN Award variable costs were under £300/ha, including £120/ha for seed and fertiliser and £157 for crop protection products.
“Machinery costs added just under £200/ha, including cultivations, drilling, spraying, fertiliser spreading and combining.”