According to Teagasc’s Michael Hennessy, Harvest 2022 is all but completed in many parts of the country. 

However, not all areas are finished and there is still some crops to be completed in the midlands and north west. 

Generally straw was baled shortly after the combine and fields are in the process of being cleared of the bales at the moment. 

Hennessy commented:

“The rain over the past week has been patchy, from outright downpours to light rain, depending on where you are. 

“The rain is welcome and the moisture will allow the recently planted cover crops to get going and it will also help farmers who intend planting oilseed over the next few weeks.”

Sowing after harvest

Turning to oilseed rape, Hennessy confirmed that prices are not at their dizzying heights of May 2022. But the forward prices for Harvest 2023 are nearly 60% more than the previous five-year average. 

“The projected returns from rape in 2023, even taking into account the very high costs, are similar to high yielding winter wheat and well ahead of other crops,” he said.

“Planning of the crops starts with the rotational spot and ensuring the crop is given every chance it can to achieve a high yield.” 

Club root, which affects oilseed rape, was a feature on many farms in 2022 and where it was severe, crops were all but written off.  

According to Teagasc, the disease will persist in a field for 15 years or more. Weeds such as charlock and hedge mustard or brassica cover crops growing in the field will act as a host and may prolong the disease even longer. 

“Long rotations are the best preventative action but high pH soils and club root-tolerant varieties can also help but results can be inconsistent,” Hennessy further explained.

“A one-in-four or one-in-five rotation or greater for oilseed rape is recommended. 

“Planting can commence from August 20 and ideally all oilseed rape should be planted by September. 

“Later planting risks poor growth during the autumn which increases pest attach and weed challenges.”

The tillage specialist added that it has also been shown that early planting will help plants to develop quickly and bulk up over the autumn. 

Where this leaf growth can be retained into early spring, this can lead to significant savings in nitrogen application for the season. Nitrogen costs for 2023 will be higher than 2022, therefore the financial savings can be substantial.  

Growers should choose a variety with good Light Leaf Spot resistance as this can be a very significant disease in a wet year. 

It is also useful to select a variety with resistance to pod shatter, which will give confidence during a tricky harvest.