At harvest the crop in the trial at Strichen achieved a yield of 3.11t/ha, with 43% oil; cost calculations showed a gross margin of £2,624/ha, assuming a price of £900/t. In a second trial at Fraseburgh, yields were 2.4t/ha, so slightly less but still bringing in a healthy gross margin in a very challenging year in which to grow oilseed rape.
“The LG Aurelia did much better than many conventionally-grown OSR crops in this area, so quite a few farmers in the area have asked what variety it is – and they wouldn’t believe it was organic,” he says.
“It also proved easy to combine, so all in all it has been a very positive variety to grow.”
“The key to the success of an organic crop is choosing a variety with good autumn and spring vigour and strong agronomic characteristics, so for this reason I chose the hybrid LG Aurelia which offers all of these.”
He has repeated the trials again this year, and at the end of the first week of September, the 2020 planted crop drilled on 20th August already has two leaves.
Andy uses his own organic starter treatment mixture applied in the seed-bed which helps protect the crop from flea beetle, while a sulphur-based nutrient product helps deter pollen beetles.
All sites received sulphur- based nutrition at 5-leaf stage and stem extension. Another dose of sulphur based nutrition was applied at petals fall.
“We could have done more with nutrition, I feel our main limiting factor is nitrogen, and this will be addressed next season.
“I also plan to feed the crop a little earlier, as soon as there is enough leaf we will apply a nice organic cocktail. My plan is to drive yield up by 20%,” says Mr Cheetham.
He reflects that the results prove that going back to basics works best, including covering the ground to help reduce weeds.