New seed mix to combat cabbage stem flea beetle
RAGT Seeds is launching a novel oilseed rape/companion crop seed mixture to help reduce cabbage stem flea beetle damage and boost crop performance.
The mix, called RGT Beetleblocker, consists of new high gross output hybrid oilseed rape, RGT Blackmillion, along with two legumes, fenugreek and berseem clover.
“Fenugreek, a key ingredient in curries, appears to act as a natural repellent to cabbage stem flea beetle,” says RAGT’s Helen Wilson.
“In a recent independent trial in France the herb reduced flea beetle numbers by 25% by early October and by 70% at the end of that month when sown as a companion crop.
“This helps reduce direct feeding damage on young plants as well as egg laying and subsequent spring larval hatch. We will investigate these benefits further next season.”
Berseem clover has been added to boost weed suppression, nitrogen fixing and soil conditioning.
“All the species are available in one bag, providing a single-pass solution to help growers combat the beetle,” says Helen.
“Both fenugreek and berseem clover establish very quickly, so we have selected seed ratios that will produce a medium amount of biomass that won’t outcompete the crop, but that won’t get lost in it either. The mixture also provides good ground cover, helping to suppress weeds.”
Fenugreek and berseem clover are legumes, so will fix nitrogen in the autumn and release it when the crop needs it in the spring. They are also frost sensitive so will usually die back naturally over winter, although herbicide options are available if required.
RGT Blackmillion is a Recommended List candidate oilseed rape with very high gross output (107 East/West region) and impressive autumn vigour, essential to help young rape plants grow away from flea beetle pressure.
The variety has very good stem canker resistance (7), while ADAS assessment scores carried out in 2019 show that it is tolerant of Verticillium wilt, a soil-borne disease that can cause high yield loss in severe cases.
RGT Beetleblocker will be available from all merchants on a limited basis for sowing 2020.