Get the paddock right
Time spent now selecting and preparing your brassica crop paddock may pay off later.
Paddock history, location and soil fertility are just three of the considerations that should be kept in mind when deciding where to grow your next brassica crop.
“Be mindful of paddock history with brassicas,” says Murray Lane, Forage Specialist for Ballance Agri-Nutrients. “If previous crops have been infested with wild turnip, it is not recommended to plant swede, turnips or kale into the same paddock. If you have had dry rot or club root don’t plant brassicas, even varieties tolerant to these problems, in that spot for five years following.”
Consider access and suitability for machinery and stock. “Choose a paddock that is less prone to pugging or compaction, and one where you can easily provide grazing stock with drinking water while keeping them away from natural waterways and drainage channels,” advises Murray.
In relation to paddock rotation, think about whether you have pasture that could benefit from a break to address weed and pest issues, contouring, or other performance problems.
“Above all, select your paddocks early,” says Murray. “This gives you time to prepare them properly, which pays off with a better crop. Spray-out weeds this autumn, put in a winter ryegrass, graze that, then spray again before sowing in spring. This will minimise the amount of weeds in the crop.”
Early paddock selection also gives you time to adjust pH and fertility. “Brassicas like a pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Lime applications need up to a year to take full effect so the sooner you select your paddock, test pH and if necessary apply lime, the better.”
Test soil nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium and boron six months before sowing to inform your fertiliser strategy. “Brassicas can be expensive to grow. Hitting that sweet spot where you get the best yield gains from your inputs, in other words an economically optimal yield, is the aim. Also consider the value of the feed as this influences the size of the gap between the economic and maximum yields,” explains Murray.
Looking further ahead, regardless of base fertiliser needs, the value of placing a starter fertiliser at sowing cannot be underestimated. Cropzeal Boron Boost is a good option for brassicas providing phosphate close to the germinating seed to support early root development, and boron to guard against common problems such as brown heart.
To assist you in planning your next brassica crop, talk to your Ballance Nutrient Specialist or your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.
Article supplied by Ballance Agri-Nutrients