Spreading workload and providing a break in rotation…oilseed rape

As the weather has proved difficult over the past few weeks for harvesting, many farmers are thinking about the next season and how to make things a little bit easier.

Given the challenging harvest conditions, having a diverse rotation may be one thing to look at to spread harvesting over a longer period of time and to spread the workload during the season.

This year, the majority of the harvest lies ahead for tillage farmers who struggled to plant winter crops in wet conditions and saw the area planted to these crops decline by approximately 40%.

As a result, more farmers may look to winter oilseed rape as an option as the crop can be sown in August and early September when conditions may be more favourable.

Also Read: Winter oilseed rape recommended list is out

It also gives some peace of mind that one crop is in early and is helping to fulfill crop diversification requirements which will once again be implemented in 2020/2021.

AgriLand says this with the cautious warning that weather conditions at present are making it difficult to get oilseed rape crops harvested, but many growers are loyal to the crop and stay with it for many reasons.

It is harvested between winter barley and winter wheat and planting in August or, if necessary, in early September is achievable.

Using oilseed rape as a break crop in your rotation allows for the control of grass weeds using alternate herbicides to cereal crops, provides a benefit to the soil and a yield benefit to the following crop.

Placing yield at 1.7t/ac and price at €350/t, Teagasc’s Crop Costs and Returns publication placed the margin for 2020 at €120/ac.

The crop will also provide a cover on the soil for a large part of the years and its roots will benefit soil structure.

Also Read: Are you thinking of planting oilseed rape?

Weed and disease control is relatively straight forward, but travel will be required in December or January and so fields should be chosen wisely for driving conditions. Slugs and pigeons are the main pests here in Ireland.