Winter oilseed rape area up significantly

The 2016/2017 winter oilseed rape acreage is up by between 10-15% on previous years, according to Teagasc Crops Specialist Michael Hennessy.

Speaking to Agriland, Hennessy said that all of the winter oilseed rape crops are now sown and are looking particularly well.

“But because of the mild conditions for this time for the year, growers should be on the lookout for Phoma leaf spot infection.

“If not addressed, this fungal attack on rape can lead to the development of stem canker once crops start to grow on next spring,” he said.

The infection can begin from September as crops emerge and the initial symptoms are white to fawn circular lesions which become dotted with small black fruiting bodies. These leaf lesions are green underneath.

Occasionally they cause partial leaf death before winter, but generally have a minimal effect on growth until spring.

Stem canker leads to plants ripening prematurely or lodging, where stems are weakened. Typical yield losses in unprotected crops of susceptible varieties are in the range of 0.5-0.7 t/ha.

Hennessy also said that winter oilseed rape represents an excellent break crop in a tillage rotation.

“Prices have also been very stable over recent years, in contrast to wheat and barley.

I know that a significant number of growers have opted for rape this autumn with the intention of following –on with winter wheat in 2017.

It is envisaged that a bumper crop of wheat in 2018 could coincide with the availability of better cereal prices,” he said.

Soil conditions improve

The Teagasc Specialist also said that ground conditions have improved in many parts of the country.

“Soils are reported to be a bit sticky in the north east. But, for the most part, the prospect of a few days’ decent weather should allow farmers to get on with sowing crops of winter wheat and barley,” he said.

Where new cereal varieties are concerned, Hennessy highlighted Infinity as a new 2-row winter barley option.

“Costello and Garrus are two winter wheat varieties that are quite new to the recommended list,” he said.