DSV United Kingdom Ltd.

Compass - the most profitable crop on the farm

Winter oilseed rape is currently the most profitable crop on the farm at Arnold Hitchcock & Co on the Hertfordshire/Essex border and in particular the variety Compass is one variety that is performing so well that it will be in the variety mix next year, according to farmer Edward Hitchcock.
Edward explains that Arnold Hitchcock and Co is part of Pelham Farming Company Ltd, a joint venture business looking after 5200 acres of arable land in Hertfordshire and Essex. “We farm in our own right and also provide contract harvesting, cultivations and drilling services for neighbouring farms. Being flat out combining and planting for at least 10 weeks of the year, we need a spread of varieties that will perform. Compass matures earlier than our other oilseed rape varieties, Cabernet and Sesame, yet it still delivers excellent yields and oils. We are having to move away from later maturing rape varieties now because of workload pressure. Also sometimes if you harvest a variety too early, oils can suffer. This has been the case with Sesame, but not with Compass. The earliness of Compass is an important feature for the contracting side of the business. We are very happy with its yields of 4.2 t/ha and its high oils, making it the most profitable crop on the farm.”
“Our rotation for the last ten or so years on the heavy land has been 2 or 3 wheats followed by a rape. An earlier maturing rape variety gives us more time to deal with black-grass, which is a very challenging weed in the area. It also allows us to use a range of chemistries with different modes of action actually in the rape crop itself.”
Advisor James Potter of Agrii explains that rape is a profit-generating crop in its own right on the farm, but is also an important break crop. “Peas, linseed and spring barley have been brought in as breaks on the lighter land and where black-grass has become more intractable. But in oilseed rape we have some excellent residual herbicides with differing modes of action such as carbetamide and propyzamide that we can use to help break the potentially resistant weed cycle. We aim to get 100% control in all rape crops to help reduce the weed seed burden of this very belligerent grass-weed. Providing you don’t move the soil too much and black-grass seed is not germinating from depth, propyzamide can do a cracking job on black-grass, as it has this autumn.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /div> 
Mr. Hitchcock reports that the variable costs to date for his rape are around £389/ha, with herbicides accounting for £54.66/ha. “This is a lot lower than herbicide costs in wheat. Seed costs were £72/ha and fertiliser, which was our greatest variable costs, were £257.91/ha. Our fungicide regime is aimed at Phoma, Sclerotinia and Alternaria. To date we have spent £16.08/ha.”
Edward also likes the way that the hybrid Compass picked up its heels in the spring and flowered early. “It didn’t show this vigour particularly in the autumn, but it was later drilled on chalky boulder clay and struggled to get going in the strong drying winds of early to mid September. In the spring though it got away much quicker and it certainly looks bigger and stronger and is podding up very well compared with the other two conventional rape varieties. Its spring vigour is an important feature, especially in a season like this. Overall Compass ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned – it produces a good yield with very high oils, it has strong spring vigour and earlier maturity. I will definitely be growing it next year.”
Sarah Lockhart of DSV says that Compass has outperformed the majority of rape varieties on the HGCA East/West Listing and has the highest gross margin on the HGCA North listing. “On the HGCA Recommended List East/West region Compass yielded 106% and in the North 107%, way ahead of the competition. It also produces high oils of 46.7%, which will bring in good premiums and boost profitability further.”

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