Oilseed rape crops at Grange Farm, near Grimsby, look shorter than usual and are about three weeks behind last year in terms of development, but farm manager Billy Wrisdale remains optimistic that crops will still perform well.
His 129ha of RGT Windozz has built on its swift getaway earlier in the spring. “It has recovered well coming out of a difficult winter/spring, has developed quickly and was the first variety out in flower,” he says.
“The variety seems to have coped relatively well with the swings in temperature. It still came out in flower evenly and its height is consistent across all fields.”
All the varieties he grows are shorter than usual this season, and Windozz is the shortest. He doesn’t believe this will be too detrimental to yield, and it will certainly speed up harvesting operations.
“There’s certainly no need for any more PGR,” he adds. “I would generally only apply one PGR to a short variety such as Windozz anyway, but we have potentially saved a PGR on taller, weaker varieties compared to a “normal” season.
“However, I generally select varieties for short and stiff characteristics anyway due to the fertile nature of our land.”
He is happy with the thickness of the crop. Some small areas suffered pigeon damage and are a little thin but nothing unusual.
The Windozz has a head start on the other varieties by coming into flower sooner, but it is the overall length of flowering which he believes makes the most difference.
“I am hopeful that the earliness of the Windozz flowering will give it a longer flowering period overall and that will in turn result in a better seed set and therefore ultimately a higher yield.
The first flowering spray (1 litre/ha of azoxystrobin, + 0.35 litres/ha of prothioconazole) has gone on in the last few days. Billy plans to apply a second spray in three weeks if enough flower remains on the crop.
“The decision will also be based on the weather at the time and the likelihood of rain/ heavy dew to stick the petals to the stem as they fall off.”
The second Sclerotinia spray should be the last application prior to desiccation. He will desiccate with glyphosate and a water softener due to the hard water in his area.
Despite the season’s challenges, some of these OSR crops could surprise, providing the weather remains good over the next six weeks.
“My yield expectations have improved in the last few weeks. RGT Windozz’s resilience has impressed me and, although it is difficult to predict, given how the crop looks today I have no reason to believe that the Windozz won’t be our top yielding variety again this year.
“Provided it yields well, I will stick with it next year as it has a lot of vigour, is short and stiff and has shown good resilience in a very challenging winter/spring.
“I also have the confidence to plant RGT Windozz in outlying blocks of land, as it has the vigour to beat the pigeons and has proven this year that it has a low requirement for growth regulators and fungicide.”