Backward crops but plenty of potential

This month, we take a look at how RAGT OSR varieties are faring after the tricky spring weather.

Cathy Hooper - Technical Sales Manager
Cathy Hooper - RAGT

After having viewed hundreds of plots in official trials up and down the country, Cathy Hooper, RAGT’s technical sales manager, reckons OSR varieties in general are a month behind in terms of flowering compared to last year.

“Some varieties have suffered from the cold spring. However, RGT Windozz has stood out in most trials, coming out of the winter particularly well and being the earliest variety to flower in every trial I’ve seen, with RGT Alizze not far behind.

“Generally speaking all the hybrids have come out of the winter looking strong, but we’ll have to see whether that translates into better yields.”

RGT Windozz in particular is very hardy, due to one of its parents being extremely frost tolerant. “It wasn’t as badly affected by the adverse weather as some varieties in the trials, which helped it get away earlier,” says Cathy.

RGT Alizze and RGT Windozz are the earliest to flower on the Recommended List (both an 8) and are rated 5 for maturity.

“This gives a longer flowering period, which hopefully enables them to set more seed and produce not just higher yields, but consistently higher yields,” says Cathy.

Cabbage stem flea beetle larvae can be readily found in some areas, but generally speaking it is not too much of an issue. That reflects last autumn’s reduced pressure, particularly in some areas where the pest had been on the rise for several years.

“The Oxfordshire trials seem badly affected,” says Cathy. “Larvae are now in the stems and stunted plants are starting to branch a lot.

“Two years ago, these trials didn’t have a problem. Conversely at Newmarket, which had been a hotspot, there was no problem with the pest this year.”

Light leaf spot has been present in most trials, but it came in late and is not present at threatening levels.

One concern is that many varieties have been looking on the short side, due to roots sitting in wet or waterlogged soil for long periods. “This might lead to lodging problems later in the season, as rooting won’t be that deep,” says Cathy.

That could be compounded in some crops – degrees of compaction are evident in some of the direct-drilled trials because of last year’s wet harvest, a problem that might extend into commercial crops as well.

On the whole though, oilseed rape crops are looking better than this time last year after the very dry spring, says Cathy.

“Some varieties have suffered more, and everything is behind, but there is still time for them to catch up.

“What we really need now is period of warmer weather with sunshine and showers to keep crops growing strongly. The last thing we want is for it to turn hot and dry – a lot of these crops have shallow roots, so we want to keep moisture in the soil.”

Chris Guest
Chris Guest - Gleadell

Merchant’s comment

Chris Guest, seed manager, Gleadell Agriculture

OSR crops are now motoring along but RGT Windozz is again leading the way, showing how early it is to flower.

Numerous reports throughout the country state it being a week or so earlier to flower than most other varieties.

Spring vigour is often overlooked when looking at a hybrid’s performance, as speed of establishment in the autumn takes the main focus, especially where flea beetle pressure is high.

RGT Windozz is no slouch in the autumn, but is exceptionally quick to show in the spring. In a late one such as this, it is such an advantage to have a variety that will get going, providing a long flowering period to help maximise seed set.

RGT Windozz has this ideal package. When harvests are later, as could be the case this year, later-maturing varieties could compromise the perfect entry into a first wheat. This is another good reason for having RGT Windozz in the cropping plan for 2019/20.