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    Winter oilseed rape crops on track for average harvest
20/06/06

Winter oilseed rape crops in the north east which have received a managed input programme are on track for an average harvest, says NIAB’s trials manager, Peter Burgis reporting from NK’s trial site based at Cockle Park, Morpeth and part of NK Performance Evaluation Network (PEN), a major initiative launched by the company and designed to help growers make more informed decisions this coming season when selecting their oilseed rape varieties.  

oilseed rape

“Crops are looking extremely well, despite having experienced extremes of conditions during the main growing season. However we have a way to go prior to harvest, and if we don’t have some decent rain in the next few weeks, crops will be put under stress,” he says.

“The PEN trial crop has come through the winter with little frost damage, we had ample rain in March and April enabling the development of a good canopy structure, and since then, conditions at flowering have been ideal and also for subsequent pod development. Rainfall is half the level of what it was last year during May and June, therefore lodging has not been an issue.”

Mr Burgis reports that varieties susceptible to Light Leaf Spot had suffered up to 15% level of infection earlier in the year, however it had been insufficient to impact on growth and subsequent potential yield. In addition, while neighboring crops had Pollen Beetle attack, the Cockle Park site had remained free from infestation.

He adds: “Our observations at the trial site reflect the trend among commercial crops in the North East. Farmers who are treating winter oilseed rape as a managed crop are this season using forecasting tools to enable them to take prescriptive rather than reactive measures. If there are real problems among crops, then they will usually be traced back to establishment.”

  • The NK Performance Evaluation Network venture features trial sites in a total of 10 major oilseed rape growing areas located throughout Britain: in addition to Cockle Park, the sites can be found at Kinross, Driffield, Louth, Northampton, Cambridge and Salisbury. Each site features 20 winter oilseed rape varieties; a mix of HGCA Recommended List 2006/07 varieties, and National List Year II and Recommended List candidates.

PEN has been structured to enable growers for the first time to make a direct local and national comparison of the performance of National List Year II candidate varieties with existing commercial varieties – those on the current HGCA Recommended List. The initiative will extend the information available to growers beyond the HGCA Recommended List trial sites.

“The PEN venture is an excellent idea,” says Paul Beech of UAP which are co-operating with NK at the Cockle Park trial site. “Providing both farmers and advisors with this set information on candidate and Recommended List varieties which are grown and managed in local conditions will prove to be valuable in helping them to make more accurate decisions this season.”

The trial sites are being closely monitored throughout the growing period and feedback on individual variety performance will be available throughout, culminating at harvest with a report on each variety’s yields within 24 hours of coming off the field.

NK is staging a PEN open day at Cockle Park on Tuesday 4 July from 10.00am to 2.00pm. For further details contact NK on 01223 494010.

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