An earlier than normal finish to the harvest and strong forward prices has contributed to an increased area (est. 18 - 20,000ha) of winter oilseed rape this season. The majority of crops have reached target plant populations although a small number of crops struggled in dry soils and there were a few cases of slug damage despite the dry weather at planting. There are no reports of cabbage stem flea beetle damage.
Several weed control strategies were employed by growers this season largely driven by dry weather conditions and product availability. Metazachlor based products (Katamaran Turbo etc.) applied pre em or early post em have largely given successful control of target broad leaved weeds but volunteer cereals are problematic and need to be controlled with a suitable graminicide (Stratos Ultra/Falcon etc.) if not already done.
With drilling of winter cereals having already started there have been many questions posed about the required seed rates for the different crops and varieties. As always the rates used last season may not be exactly correct for the current season as the thousand grain weight (TGW) for 2022 crops will have been different than those harvested in 2021, therefore the seed rates may well have to be adjusted to reflect this.
With drilling now underway for harvest 2023 growers attention will quickly turn to controlling weeds in sown crops. Over the last number of years there has been a consistent shift to using herbicides pre-emergence to improve control of grass weeds in particular.
There are many reports of slug damage in winter oilseed rape crops which is surprising given the dry autumn we have had with some crops having been badly grazed and some even having to be re-drilled. This serves as a warning to cereal crops being drilled at the moment many after crops where straw was chopped at harvest which increases the risk even further.