Blocking the Beetle - New Trials Assess Potential of OSR/Companion Crop Mix

Trials of RGT Beetleblocker, the new oilseed rape/companion crop mix from RAGT, are underway this autumn to assess its potential to reduce cabbage stem flea beetle damage.

RGT Beetleblocker consists of RGT Blackmillion, the new high-output hybrid oilseed rape from RAGT, and two other species, fenugreek and berseem clover.

“Fenugreek is a key ingredient in curries and appears to act as a natural repellent to cabbage stem flea beetle,” says Dr Cathy Hooper, RAGT Seeds technical sales manager. “Berseem clover has been added to boost weed suppression, nitrogen fixing and soil conditioning.”

Both companions establish quickly and make ideal partners for RGT Blackmillion, which has impressive autumn vigour, essential to help young rape plants grow away from flea beetle pressure.

RAGT has established three trials, in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex, each comparing a 3ha block of straight RGT Blackmillion with the same area of RGT Beetleblocker.

“We decided on large plots to mimic what happens in the field,” says Cathy. “Small plot trials tend to skew beetle infestation – you get more of an all-or-nothing scenario.”

Insect counts and damage assessments will be carried out at various stages through the season, and all trials will be taken to yield.

“The trials were sown over the past month to provide a good spread of drilling date as well as region,” says Cathy. RGT Blackmillion was sown at 2.7kg/ha and the RGT Beetleblocker at 15kg/ha, providing the same amount of OSR and the correct proportions of fenugreek and berseem clover.

Several farmers are also carrying out field scale work with RGT Beetleblocker to see how the mixture fares, including Suffolk grower Alan Luck and a commercial crop grown near Standish in Lancashire, snapped by ProCam agronomist Kathryn Richards, is “getting away well and looking good”, according to ProCam seed manager Lee Harker.

“It’s an interesting concept – it’s certainly a help and looks like something to develop for the future,” he adds.

RGT Blackmillion is a Recommended List candidate oilseed rape with very high gross output (107 East/West region).

The variety has very good stem canker resistance (7) and ADAS assessment scores show that it is tolerant of Verticillium wilt.

Download the latest datasheet to learn more.

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