BASF’s spring oilseed rape variety InVigor Performer certainly lived up to its name last year, producing a yield of 2.72 t/ha, and with bonuses for excellent oil contents and quality, made a gross margin of £614.56/ha, at a price of £395/t.
Tom Smith, agronomist with ProCam, looked after the 20 ha crop for David and Mark Berry of Berry Bros Farms Ltd, St Helens, in the northwest of England.
Mr Smith said, “One of the big drivers for growing spring oilseed rape (SOSR) was the inability to get much winter crop planted in the autumn of 2019, because of the dreadful weather conditions. David and Mark were looking for something to break up the harvest as they grow a lot of spring barley and spring wheat.
They had previous experience of growing winter oilseed rape but gave up because of issues with cabbage stem flea beetle and so I suggested they try SOSR. Cabbage stem flea beetle doesn’t affect SOSR because the life cycle of the pest fits the winter growing season.
After I’d costed it out, they decided to have a go with it and it certainly worked last season.”
Performer, from BASF’s InVigor range, topped the AHDB SOSR Descriptive List in 2020 and does so again this year. This variety has exceptionally good oil content, medium maturity and very good lodging resistance.
Mr Smith said, “We chose to grow InVigor Performer because it is a good all round variety. We put the crop in around the end of March so, for a spring rape, we were quite early with it. We went with a higher seed rate than you would for winter oilseed rape, 80 seeds/m2 aiming for a plant population of about 70 plants/m2.
There was quite a dry spell from March all the way up to the middle of June and I was really concerned about germination in the dry weather, but the InVigor Performer was very vigorous and established well, giving us a very good cover. It got its roots down deep quickly, even with low water, all in all it was very impressive. It withstood the dry spring incredibly well. We seem to be getting more springs where we are on the verge of a drought and then all of a sudden it is very wet, and InVigor Performer stood up to those conditions well.”
The crop was very low input with a pre-emergence herbicide and a fungicide applied for protection against Sclerotinia when conditions turned wet at petal drop.
Mr Smith said, “ The canopy was very even with no lodging at all, so we didn’t use any fungicides that had any growth regulatory effects. The only pest which caused an issue was pollen beetle and an insecticide was applied when threshold levels were exceeded.”
The crop was harvested direct, yielding well over two and a half tonnes a hectare and the oil content meant that bonuses were paid. Mr Smith said, “When I compared it against spring barley and spring wheats on the farm it did a lot better in terms of return. The comment from the farmers when the cheque came in was, ‘I think we’ll grow some more of that.’ Not only are they planning to keep InVigor Performer in the rotation they’re also likely to extend the area.”
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