Jimmy Powers planted his first crop of rapeseed on Oct. 21, 2011 and so far it has been a good crop, he says.

Good enough that it will likely become a staple of his cropping rotation in future years.

“If we harvest 50 bushels per acre from our rapeseed, moneywise, it should work out comparable to our wheat crop,” Powers says. His wheat crop would have been better, but got some damage from a late spring freeze. The rapeseed, he says, was not damaged by the freeze.

“The biggest difference between wheat and rapeseed, is the price of seed. Rapeseed is more expensive, but the crop is more valuable, so it all works out.

“We didn’t do anything much different with the rapeseed than we do with our wheat crop. We did apply a little more nitrogen. I think the crop needs more sulfur than wheat, but on our sandy soils we have to apply sulfur anyway,” Powers says.

“We used a liquid nitrogen fertilizer that we applied over-the-top just like we do wheat. And, we used both a S-24 nitrogen formulation and a dry formulation of 6-12-38,” he adds.

The biggest problem, he says, was getting the seeding rate right. Maybe it was beginners luck, Powers notes, but the dense, heavily seeded rapeseed on his North Carolina farm looked in early May to be a bumper crop.

“Next year, we will use a metered planter. We think it will give us better seed depth control and make planting a little less stressful,” he says. Despite the planting time trauma, Powers agrees the end product turned out well.

In an area where glyphosate resistant pigweed is a constant threat, Powers says the rapeseed may be very important. “We burned down the previous crop with gramoxone and applied Treflan in the fall, then planted the rapeseed. It grew out so fast and shaded out the rows well enough that we had virtually no weed or grass problems, he notes.

Powers says he was surprised at how quickly the new crop produced a canopy and completely shaded out other unwanted plants, including pigweed. “There just wasn’t any light that penetrated the canopy, so there was not much chance of a weed or any other plant growing under there,” he adds.

He says the rapeseed plants canopied the rows even when the plants were small. “Once the crop was up and growing in the fall, there wasn’t much else we needed to do until spring, when it started growing again.”