Once the crop was up and growing, he says there were few production problems. “We had a really warm winter and we knew disease problems would likely be an issue in our spring crops, but still we had more of a problem with sclerotinia in our rapeseed than we expected, he says.

“Normally, we wouldn’t spray a fungicide on wheat until mid-April, but we had to spray our rapeseed in mid-March this year to deal with sclerotinia.” He applied Proline in March and in April came back with an application of Quadris.

The extra sulfur and boron, and the extra application of a fungicide and slightly higher seed costs make rapeseed a little more expensive to grow than wheat, he says.

“However, in most years, the one fungicide application will be enough and as we get more used to planting rapeseed, the seed cost will likely come down some, too,” he says.

Walton grows rapeseed on contract with Technology Crops International. Jeff Riddle, who is Grower Relations Manager for the company, says plans are to bump up rapeseed acreage in North Carolina this year to about 40,000 acres.

This year the company contracted 20,000 acres, but delayed planting knocked out 3,000 or so acres. Ultimately, he says the plan is to increase production to 100,000 acres and expand into other states in the Upper Southeast.

“We already get inquiries from growers in South Carolina and Virginia about growing rapeseed, but in most cases we don’t have the storage capacity to hold the crop.

“We’ve found that’s a big challenge for growers who in most cases are planting spring crops at the time rapeseed needs to be harvested. So, we try to make harvest and delivery as easy as possible for growers,” Riddle says.

Walton says being a first time grower of the crop produces a lot of questions. “I’ve been real pleased with our arrangement with Technology Crops International. They have been there all through the process to answer questions, if not in person on the phone. For example, they found the early sclerotinia problems in other fields and gave me a heads-up to look for it, and told me what to do to manage the disease,” Walton says.

rroberson@farmpress.com

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