With a challenging autumn for oilseed rape (OSR) establishment so far, looking after and maintaining the momentum of crops that have made it through becomes increasingly important.

To establish a robust OSR crop ahead of winter and the inevitable flea beetle attack, crop nutrition expert urges growers to think about foliar nutrition, in particular boron.

Chris Bond, product manager for crop nutrition and plant health at FMC, explains foliar nutrition could be key to growers establishing robust and large OSR plants to battle pests and the elements.

The Northern Farmer: Well established oilseed rape crop in autumn

“Larger OSR plants are much more likely to withstand the adult grazing and larval phase of flea beetle attack and will be more robust when it comes to freezing temperatures,” he says.

FMC carries out tissue testing across the country on a yearly basis to see trends in crop deficiencies. For the past three years the company has been monitoring OSR crops and has identified a trend in increasing boron deficiency.

“Over the past three years we’ve seen boron deficiency creeping up. In 2021 26 per cent of the crops we tested were deficient, and this year it’s jumped to 42 per cent,” says Mr Bond.

He explains that the micronutrient, boron, is particularly important after the four-leaf stage as it influences crop growth processes and builds frost resilience over winter by strengthening cell walls.

The Northern Farmer: Chris Bond - FMC product manager

“Boron also has a part to play in flowering,” explains Mr Bond.

“Although flowering is quite a way off, the OSR starts to develop florets at the base of the plant as early as the autumn. So, making sure the plant has enough boron to influence this is important as it ultimately could impact yield.”

Mr Bond recommends an application of boron in a mix with other micronutrients to help aid Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) and give the crop a boost this autumn.

“Bo-La is a mixture of boron and molybdenum, which can address boron deficiencies but also help boost NUE as in order to take up nitrogen, molybdenum is needed,” he says.

“If you’re looking for a ‘multi-vitamin’ for your OSR crop, Stoker is a good choice. It contains boron and molybdenum but also manganese and magnesium, which support photosynthesis, and sulphur which is another important element for OSR as it has high demand for it.

“These products can be applied with other crop protection products, such as autumn fungicides or grass weed programs,” adds Mr Bond.

OSR crops come under heavy fire in the autumn and winter months, but by making a small investment in foliar nutrition, growers can give their crops a boost and help them emerge from the winter in a competitive state.