The focus of some of my farmers is now turning towards Winter Oilseed Rape (WOSR) which would typically be sown from mid-August up to mid-September, depending on location. I work closely with farmers whose aim is to get the crop into the ground and well established as early as possible to combat any threat from pest attacks, especially pigeons later on.
On a recent visit to the site of Larry and James O’Reilly’s winter oilseed rape crop in Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny, I assessed the current crop of winter oilseed rape which is days away from harvest. James uses it very effectively as a break crop and it forms a major part of his five year rotation.
Why Grow Winter Oilseed Rape
Dating back some time and for a number of years The O’Reilly farm suffered issues with Sterile Brome under a continuous winter crop programme. The use of winter oilseed rape has been instrumental in dealing with this issue. Winter oilseed rape also allows the O’Reilly’s to adhere to EU Greening regulations and the three-crop-rule.
How to Sow Winter Oilseed Rape
Before planting can begin I recommend a fine, firm, level seedbed. Normal recommendations are to sow to a depth of 1cm. Ploughing followed by one-pass drilling technique is still popular but minimum tillage as for cereals is also satisfactory.
Ideally cultivation should be done when soil conditions are dry as rape does not like compaction. However, the seedbed should be rolled as rape requires a consolidated seedbed and also to retain moisture. The O’Reilly’s use a double deep precision drill and sow 9” deep at a rate of 2kg/ha. A tine drill is used to apply DAP (18N 20P). While the sowing rate may seem lower than average, James believes it allows the crop to branch out and is another mechanism in fighting against subsequent threat from pests.
When looking back over the current crop and reflecting on the disease and weed control programme operated, James refers to his absolute focus on sowing winter oilseed rape as early as possible and getting the crop established as quickly as possible. However variety choice has a big part to play here also.
Winter Oilseed Rape Varieties
Yield, disease resistance, standing power, early vigour (dependent on sowing date) and earliness of maturity are the important factors influencing variety selection. There are a number of varieties available through Connolly’s RED MILLS.
The O’Reilly’s are particularly keen on Dekalb Monsanta varieties due to anti-pod shatter characteristics. This has meant no requirement for a pod-seal application on their farm. They also look for light leafspot resistance and phoma resistance which become more important as oilseed rape appears more often in the rotation. Extravert and Expower are popular varieties as well as Sensation, Compass and Flash which are hybrids also.
It is worth highlighting that I have seen at first-hand how winter oilseed rape is benefitting the yield of subsequent crops.
If you have a question or need any advice on winter oilseed rape, why not ask myself or any of our tillage crop and agri experts and we will be happy to assist with all elements of crop management.
- Winter Crops
- Winter oilseed rape