Steve Tuer’s bumper 7.2t/ha crop of oilseed rape may well be the highest yielding crop in the world ever recorded. The unofficial record attempt took place on 21 August at Mr Tuer’s Hutton Grange farm, near Northallerton. The national average oilseed rape yield consistently runs at under 4t/ha.
The restored hybrid variety, Incentive, is well suited to performance in the north, scoring 109% on the HGCA’s North Region Recommended List, but Mr Tuer said that the yield resulted from the farm’s soil and the attention to detail of the agronomy.
“This used to be a dairy farm, so there is a lot of inherent fertility in the soil, plus all the slurry from our 600-sow and pig fattening unit is spread back onto the 1000 acres of arable land,” he explained. “The soil is also very heavy, so crops do very well in a dry year like the one we’ve had.”
He added that his close working relationship with his agronomist, Chris Martin, of Agrovista, has allowed them to perfect the farm’s agronomy programmes to get the management “spot-on” in input choice and timings. The crop was sown at a very low seed rate, using simple cultivations but ensuring maximum attention to detail in achieving good seed to soil contact and post-sowing consolidation.
“I don’t believe in early sowing of oilseed rape,” Mr Tuer explained. “This crop wasn’t sown until the 6th September at a rate of 35 seed/m2 with a Vaderstad drill, after min-tilling with a Heva Combilift, followed by shallow discs and a packer.”
Following on-farm trials developed by Chris Martin, the fertiliser applied in four splits totalling 220kg of nitrogen as urea. The application dates were 10 March, 20 March + sulphur, 28 March and 12 April + sulphur. “We also applied foliar nitrogen in June with the second sclerotinia spray,” he noted.
Chris Martin took what he describes as a “conventional spray programme” of an autumn phoma and Light Leaf Spot spray of Frelizon (pentiopyrad + picoxystrobin), followed by an early spring application of Monkey (tebuconazole + Prochloraz), and combined with the nutrition product Headland Bo-La (boron + molybdenum). The scelertonia programme then consisted of Recital (Fluopyram + Protioconazole) at early flower, followed up three weeks later with Proline (prothioconazole) in tank mix with Nufol (foliar nitrogen), which Mr Tuer described as a “Rolls Royce Agrovista programme.”
“I’ve fallen in love with growing oilseed rape! But I invest to yield, make sure my soils are in good condition and keep everything simple – my rotation, cultivations and my agronomy,” Mr Tuer said. He also yielded 12.2t/ha from a crop of Glacier winter barley. He has also registered with the ADAS Yield Enhancement Network project with a field of the variety, Kielder. “This field previously yielded 16t/ha in 2010,” so he is very hopeful that it should do very well this year.