Billy Wrisdale, manager at GH Parker (North Cotes) Ltd, is growing 129ha of RGT Windozz oilseed rape for the second year running at Grange Farm, near Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
The crop has established well and so far looks on course to turn in as good a performance as last season, Billy believes.
Choosing high-yielding varieties with strong agronomic characteristics is key, as the farm has recently expanded and grows 457ha of OSR.
RGT Windozz ticks both boxes, he says. The vigorous hybrid tops the Recommended List for gross output and features solid disease resistance to both light leaf spot and stem canker as well as strong standing ability.
“RGT Windozz was recommended to me as a potential high yielder on heavy but fertile soils in this area,” says Billy.
“Growing the best crop of OSR we can is very important. It offers as good gross margin as anything else and provides a valuable break to cereal crops on the heavy land."
“A well-established, competitive crop also plays a large part in our blackgrass control strategy.”
The crop looked well all year and grew away more quickly than other varieties in the spring, says Billy.
Its short straw aided standing power and the relatively earliness to harvest helped spread combining workload. The crop was noticeably less prone to shedding seed as well, even though it was the earliest to mature.
It turned in a strong performance, yielding an average of 4.46 t/ha and topping out at 5.26t/ha in one field, compared with the farm OSR average of 4.34t/ha.
“One field of Windozz was extremely wet and late drilled. On a like-for-like basis the average yield would have risen to 4.6t/ha,” says Billy.
The current crop was sown into a good seed-bed at 60 seeds/m2 on 30 August to 2 September, using a Vaderstad 6m Rapid drill. It was then rolled.
The fields had been subsoiled once the preceding winter barley crop was cleared, then power-harrowed lightly to chit volunteers and black-grass. Regrowth was sprayed with glyphosate before drilling.
“We used to sub-cast all OSR for several years,” says Billy. “We’ve reverted to moving the soil more to improve blackgrass control pre-drilling. It costs a bit more but we are also getting a more even crop.
“Using a vigorous variety like Windozz also means we can delay drilling a bit as well, giving us a wider window for stale-seed-beds.”
The crop established well and grew away strongly. “Given the kind autumn we’ve established around 50 plants/sq m rather than the 30-35 we prefer.
“However, that is manageable and has provided more competition for black-grass and will help deter pigeons during the winter.”
Cabbage stem flea beetle is not a big problem on the open, exposed fields. Only one field was treated, using Hallmark soon after emergence.
A comprehensive herbicide programme has been applied. “OSR provides a good opportunity to bring alternative black-grass chemistry into play. Black-grass is an ongoing battle and we don’t give it any chances.”
Pre-em Springbok was applied to control cranesbill, followed by Falcon in mid-September to control volunteer barley. Centurion Max followed four weeks later, the Crawler towards the end of October and AstroKerb on 8 December.
Only one fungicide application – tebuconazole on 8 December – was needed to treat a low level of phoma.
“The Windozz is going in to the winter looking very well. We know it is quick to get away after the winter, so we’ll keep a close eye on growth and weather to assess nitrogen/sulphur timings, the need for growth regulation and disease levels.”
We’ll return to Grange farm to find out more about Billy’s plans in a future issue of the RAGT Newsletter.