Smyre offers ideas to improve rapeseed in Mid-Atlantic

By Dorothy Noble
AFP Correspondent

GRANTVILLE, Pa. (Nov. 15, 2016) — At the Keystone Crops and Soils Conference in late October, Andrew Smyre, agronomist with Perdue Agribusiness, LLC, presented growing tips for rapeseed.
This oilseed, a high erucid acid rapeseed, is grown as a winter annual in Delmarva and Pennsylvania.
Its 40 percent oil content compares favorably with soybeans which average 18 to 20 percent oil.
This rapeseed is a key ingredient for plastics which contact food, such as bottle caps, and personal care products and pharmaceuticals.
Perdue literature indicates a trait which diminishes rye contamination, consequently offering protection for wheat markets.
Also, its taproot ranks high at penetrating hardpan.
A brassica, this rapeseed can be grown like winter canola.
The extremely small seeds can be planted at a depth of a half-inch to three-quarter of an inch.
The recommended rate is 3 to 3 1/2 pounds per acre. Use 7 1/2-inch rows and expect emergence in three to seven days. Check for herbicide carryover.
The seed is not Roundup Ready.
Smyre suggested employing phosphate and potash fertilizer guidelines for wheat; plus 150 pounds of nitrogen, 25 to 30 pounds sulfur and one-half to one pound boron per acre. 
Pennsylvania growers may plant in early to mid-September; farmers in Maryland and further south could plant later. Well drained, weed-free soil is highly preferable.
“It gives a good stand and makes the rest of the year easier,” Smyre pointed out.
Penn State agronomists suggest that growth of six leaves and a pencil-size taproot before the first killing frost would be ideal.
White mold and black spot could occur, and are easily treated with fungicides.
Insecticides can deal with aphids and flea beetles if necessary.
Smyre told the group that this rapeseed breaks dormancy in early March.
Purple coloration will occur due to the sugar the plant produces for protection.
Top dress with 30 pounds of nitrogen in the spring; split applications two weeks apart, using 30 percent first, then the remaining 70 percent.
These applications should be prior to stem elongation.
Flowering begins in April. By Mother’s Day, the field should be in full flower.
By late June the crop will dry down for an early July harvest.
The crop is ready to harvest when the seed color changes to deep reddish black.
The entire crop may not come into harvest simultaneously. The yield can be 50 to 65 bushels per acre.
Smyre noted, “Harvest is the most challenging.”
Not only is the seed very small, there is a narrow window of time.
The harvest must be performed when it is ready — the ideal time variance is only one to one and a half weeks.
The moisture content at harvest should be nine percent.
This can be measured with a normal grain tester.
This year’s June 30 harvest commanded $9 per bushel, according to Smyre.
If stored until September, the price received a premium. He told growers Perdue will purchase the crop.
Smyre said growers should expect a following crop of this rapeseed to enjoy a bump in yield.
Following corn is a natural for it. Also, it is adaptable to a double cropping soybean program.