Is it too late to drill oilseed rape in England?

Is it worth re-drilling winter oilseed rape where drought, cabbage stem flea beetle or slugs have destroyed crops? It’s a hot topic right now. Many people say that crops sown after mid-September (in England) don’t yield well, but is this the case?

I took a look at data from the AHDB Recommended List trials since harvest 2013 (drilled autumn 2012) to see how drilling date affects final yield. The trials are normally sown early, so there are very few late drilling dates, but it does give some indication of the strength of the impact of a range of sowing dates through September on final yield.

The results are shown below. Each point represents the result from a single trial (East/West region only). I have selected a couple of popular varieties from each year – one conventional and one hybrid. There are no statistics behind this, but it does give an idea of what is going on.

Naturally, there is a lot of variability but also no indication of any drop off in yield up to the middle of September.

Given that soil temperatures are still warm and we have had a good drop of rain, re-drilling looks like a reasonable bet.

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Paul Gosling

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