Growing spring oilseed rape can either be part of a longer term planned rotation or as a consequence of an autumn crop failure, but whatever the circumstances growers should aim to grow the highest yielding and most vigorous variety they can.
From breeders DSV, the hybrid spring oilseed rape Makro was added to the HGCA list this year and is by far the highest yielding spring rape variety on the list, with an impressive gross output of 109%. This is 7% above the nearest other spring rape variety. It has a high oil content of 44.5%, also the highest on the current List.
Three key farmers and a leading agronomist tell of their positive experiences of growing Makro this year.
Farming and managing a shoot in Worcestershire, Giles Jackson chooses to grow spring crops as a key management activity for a partridge shoot on the farm. “We grow spring crops so that we have the stubble in the autumn for the partridges. This last season we grew the spring oilseed rape Makro for this purpose.”
“Makro was direct drilled into barley stubble at a good seed rate. It chitted very well and grew strongly, providing excellent canopy cover throughout the spring and into the summer, which is what we are looking for. The thick canopy coverage also helped to keep down weeds in the crop. At harvest we tend to cut the stalk quite high in order to create a suitable stubble for the birds and Makro has good straw strength for this purpose,” he points out.
Giles also mentions that Makro yielded very well at 3.75 t/ha (1.5 t/acre) so the crop paid its way and generated a good return. “You don’t have to spend as much on a spring crop as a winter one and if you can get this sort of yield and gross margin and provide good cover for the birds, it ticks all the boxes.”
Also farming in the West Midlands on some heavy land, Rupert Inkpen doesn’t normally grow spring oilseed rape, but this year he grew some Makro and was very pleased with it. “Makro yielded very well at 30 cwt/acre (3.7 t/ha) - a bit more than we expected. It also delivered high oils."
“The reason we grew spring rape is that we didn’t get all the winter rape drilled as expected, due to the difficult weather conditions. In fact we don’t grow much spring cropping at all. Our normal rotation is winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter wheat and then linseed or beans. But the Makro really got us out of a hole as well as delivering excellent margins and some additional benefits.”
“Makro delivered an excellent gross margin compared to the winter oilseed crop – this is due to a combination of high yields, good pricing and lower inputs costs. We can make considerable savings on Nitrogen alone. In winter rape we apply between 180-190 kgs of Nitrogen/ha but for the spring crop it is more like 120 – quite a saving. Nor do we need expensive herbicide or fungicide programmes that winter rape requires,” he points out.
“The Makro was planted in mid-April and so allowed us to control black-grass with more autumn cultivations and the use of a total herbicide such as glyphosate in the spring prior to drilling. We have quite a black-grass problem on the heavier land, so being able to break the weed seed cycle by growing a spring rape crop was a very useful benefit.”
Rupert reports that the Makro spring rape on his farm was harvested in September, well in time to get his wheat crops in.
Farming in Warwickshire on soils from high organic to medium clay, Roger Lea found himself in a similar dilemma. “I didn’t plan to grow spring rape last spring, but my hand was forced as an area of winter oilseed rape which was drilled in difficult conditions didn’t establish well and ultimately failed due to rabbit damage. It was an obvious choice to try some Makro as it was said to be a vigorous variety and I understand it is the highest yielding spring rape variety on the recent HGCA Recommended List. It turned out to be the best spring rape I have ever grown.”
“I must say I was very pleased with its performance. It grew well and wasn’t at all heavy on inputs. In fact, all it needed was a herbicide Galera (clopyralid and picloram), which has an Extension of Authorisation (or SOLA) for use on spring oilseed rape for broad-leaved weed control, some Nitrogen fertiliser and a desiccant – that was all. It yielded just under 3 t/ha. So we had a crop that yielded well with very little expenditure; it acted as a good break crop and more importantly solved our cropping dilemma,” says Roger.
Advising farmers in Cheshire, Nigel Walley of Agrovista also advised one of his farmers Clive Goodwin to grow some spring rape Makro. “On paper it looked to be worth a go. We had a few situations on the farm where winter cropping had failed and so were looking for a decent spring crop to drill. As a hybrid rape I was expecting Makro to be vigorous - it certainly needed to be as it was drilled into a very dry seedbed. Despite a prolonged germination period, it came through and grew well. It was treated pre-em with metazachlor and the specialist adjuvant Grounded, a herbicide treatment that did a good job despite drought conditions.”
Nigel also expected Makro to yield well. “On paper its yield is head and shoulders above any other spring rape on the List and in fact it yielded well ahead of the game, on this farm, under challenging circumstances. With buoyant oilseed rape pricing too, it makes this crop well worth growing when it comes to gross margins.”
“Even though the circumstances at the beginning of the season were concerning, Makro delivered and we would certainly grow it again,” he says.
Sarah Lockhart of DSV adds that if farmers are looking for an easy to grow and profitable spring crop, then growing a hybrid spring oilseed rape could tick quite a few boxes. “Since its introduction into the variety trialling system, Makro has been the highest yielding spring rape each year. Being a hybrid allows plants to establish quickly and be more resilient in difficult growing conditions.” She advises that Makro should be sown when soils have warmed up, usually in the first three weeks of April.
If you need any further information about Makro or any other DSV spring or winter rape variety,
please contact Sarah Lockhart of DSV on 01366 388223 or via mobile 07789 888703 or by email