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Still worth protecting OSR yields in a difficult season – CPM – Simon Wilcox

To maximise the yield potential of OSR, it’s best to avoid the ‘convenience application’ of a pod sealant with a pre-harvest desiccant ...

Instead adopt a separate earlier pass, says Hutchinson agronomist and Cambridgeshire farmer Simon Wilcox.

Simon still believes OSR is a crop that can return as much as first wheat, as well as being a valuable break crop in the rotation.

“There’s no mistaking that it’s an expensive crop to grow, but with the potential of such high returns it’s worth doing the job of growing it properly,” he says. “It’s also the first crop in the bank at harvest, which gets money back in the account during the season. But if the crop hasn’t established well before mid-Oct, then burn it off and drill second wheat.

Simon Wilcox

Apply a pod sealant

“My advice is to always apply a pod sealant, even in a bad season where yields might well be compromised. Understandably growers will want to reduce input costs in a struggling OSR crop but, in reality, this can often be a false economy. Now is the time to seal the pods to conserve remaining yield and quality potential,” he says.

“Appraise crops at senescence to assess potential based on the presence of disease and flea beetle damage,” he suggests. “Those crops that show any damage should definitely be protected with a pod sealant. Where pods look like they might be about to senesce early and lose yield, Zip-Pod will protect them against shattering.

“Applying a pod sealant is the last decision made before harvest. It’s always a good insurance policy against rain, wind and thunderstorms and a catchy weather harvest. A pod sealant also helps to reduce harvest losses at the header.

“If it rains in July, pods are at greater risk of shattering. Zip-Pod gives up to 12 weeks protection of the crop and is flexible on timing. Essentially the product should be applied once when the pods are malleable.”

Simon explains that as OSR starts to senesce, the co-polymer latex in Zip-Pod effectively holds the pods together.

“Allowing a crop to naturally senesce can return higher yields and more oil, but the disadvantage of this strategy is that harvesting can start encroaching on the wheat harvest.

“Applying a pod sealant also has a big impact on reducing volunteers, which in turn keeps erucic acid levels down. Tolerance levels have just been reduced from 5% to 2% so it’s even more important to minimise the contamination levels, bearing in mind OSR seeds can remain dormant in the soil for over 10 years.”

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