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In recent years the area of winter oilseed rape has stabilised at around 8,500 hectares. Target yield is 5t/ha, which many growers achieved in 2020, but there has been some variability in recent years – see table 1. Late sowing and pigeon grazing have been factors in low yielding years. Typically winter oilseed rape is sown after winter barley which increases the chances of getting the crop sown in August.
Oilseed rape offers the opportunity for growers to spread the risk and workload during critical parts of the season. It also offers the benefits of crop rotation, alternative weed control options, disease control and potentially increased yields in the following cereals.
Oilseed rape acts as a break crop from the Take-all fungus which adversely affects wheat. Yield of wheat sown after sowing rape can increase by 0.5-1.5 t/ha depending on the incidence of take all during the growing season.