Now, they are looking at corn and cotton behind rapeseed on about 350 acres of irrigated land near Lumber Bridge, N.C. If that works out, they may up the rapeseed acres in following years.

“We have a neighbor who grew rapeseed last year, and we watched him and talked with him a lot, and as much as anything, his success got us interested in trying it,” Walton says.

The planned rotation will be corn-rapeseed-cotton — wheat, which will give them four crops in three years. “That may change after we harvest this first crop of rapeseed,” the young North Carolina grower says.

He notes that rapeseed is planted and managed a lot like wheat, but with some different twists to it.

For his current rapeseed crop, Walton ripped corn middles, and then used glyphosate as a burn-down treatment.

“We used to run our vertical subsoiler at an angle to 30-inch rows,” he says. The result was some rough soil in which to plant small grains.

Now, they spread out the setting on their subsoiler to 38 inches and run it in the same direction as the rows, which made planting rapeseed with a John Deere air drill much smoother.

Rapeseed has tiny seed, so he knew planting would take some extra time to get used to doing. “The seed transmission on our planter runs from 0-100. Wheat, for example is planted on a 70-80 setting.” He started out with a 6.0 setting and quickly learned that was too high. Finally, he got down to a 2.75 setting and was able to get the rapeseed planted with few problems.

He says he made a couple of changes on his planter to move from 7.5 inch row spacings to 15-inch row spacings for rapeseed. Planting tiny rapeseed into crop debris can be difficult, so he added a row cleaner to the drill, which he says seemed to help smooth out the planting.

The fertilizer requirements are a bit different from wheat, the North Carolina grower says. On wheat, the primary fertilizer is 24S, but even that didn’t include enough sulfur for rapeseed.

“We went to a blended fertilizer that included more sulfur and some boron. When we applied the blended fertilizer, we also added herbicides, which seemed to hold weeds in check,” he says.

He put a total of 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre on his rapeseed crop, applied in three applications.

The first application was applied after planting, unlike wheat, and included 50 pounds of 24S, plus 10 pounds of sulfur and a half pound of boron.

He followed that with 50 pounds per acre of 24S in early February and the last 50 pounds of the blended fertilizer when the crop started to bolt in early spring.