When making decisions on what OSR variety to grow, gross output figures are key for Mr McLean but this must be backed up with strong agronomic characteristics that suit his system and region, he notes.
Paul works closely with Nick Wallace of Nickerson seeds, the retail arm of breeders Limagrain UK, as he is familiar with the characteristics of his farm which is hilly and with a range of soil types ranging from loam to heavy clay at the bottom of the hill.
“Aspire is a very high yielding conventional variety and is the only AHDB recommended conventional variety with TuYV resistance. Recommended last year, Aspire offers very high gross output for the east/west and north regions – as was proven in harvest 2019 with a UK gross output of 106%,” says Nick Wallace.
“It is short and stiff-stemmed and therefore easier to manage, add to this, its TuYV resistance, scott strong disease profile and the opportunity to early drill early, this agronomic package makes it a very farmer friendly variety.”
Nick reckons a lot of growers will be looking to target that initial sowing window this coming season as they will be looking back over the past few years and will see the early drilling slot is often the go-to, to avoid catchy weather patterns.
The rotation at Keillor Farm includes spring barley, wheat and potatoes, with oilseed rape being included after a five year gap. Agronomy is provided by East of Scotland farmers who also do all of the spraying.
“All our inputs are tailored year-on-year, according to the threats and stresses the crops are under, and decisions are made accordingly. Taking this approach also allows us to maximise our work as contract farmers, Paul explains.”
“Oilseed rape usually goes in after the spring barley. Our cultivations focus around ploughing, drilling, and then rolling. We use a Lemken Solitaire drill set at 30cm, which produces a quality seed bed for crops to emerge evenly.”
“We drilled 19ha of Aspire on 3 September 2019 at approximately 75 seeds/m2 as we find that the extra room allows bigger, stronger plants to develop.”
Keillor farm is located in a nitrogen vulnerable zone (NVZ), so there are limits to fertiliser applications, so Paul applies it in splits.
“We broadcast after sowing, and then towards the end of February or the beginning of March, we apply three splits of blended granular fertiliser (Yara Extran S) which helps us get the most from the crop.”
“This year we broadcasted 300kg of 10.18.24 + 9S just after drilling on the 14th September. This was followed up in the spring with 3 splits of Yara Extra 14-9-19. The final application goes on as late as possible, without damaging the OSR flower, and this year it went on 29th April.”
“We have found that applying sulphur has turned out to be crucial to quality, the one year it was not applied, there was a real difference.”
“Despite the horrendously wet winter, we have an absolutely bumper crop coming in from the Aspire. It showed really strong spring vigour, and flowered earlier than any of the other rape varieties on the farm.”
“We hope to make 4.9t/ha with this crop, which will be a slightly higher yield to what we have ever achieved. Limagrain varieties tend to always do really well on our land and this coming season we plan to continue with Aspire after spring barley and will try the new conventional variety, Acacia, to sow after wheat.”
Total farm area: 200ha
Soil: Loam to heavy clay
Rotation: Spring barley, wheat, potatoes, oilseed rape one year in five