Rapeseed Oil
Harvester Jan 2013_mainAs the seed develops the crop is carefully monitored for any insect pests and the first sign the seed maturity is being reached is the birds start to take a real interest in the crop. Luckily being planted in large blocks assists as the birds can only eat a relatively small percentage. At the end of December/ beginning of January the crop is cut into windrows and left the dry naturally for approximately 10 days. Once the seed moisture level is low enough for harvest to proceed this is carried out using conventional grain harvesters. The seed is then dried down to the final storage moisture level, conditioned and then held in storage silos until it is taken to the factory for processing.  
015Following a period of rapid growth the flower 153stalks emerge and full flowering occurs in about mid October. The fields are packed with bright yellow flowers which attract bees and photographers alike! Flowering continues for around 6 weeks extending into November. The seeds are set in pods which are progressively located up the stem. At the end of flowering the seeds begin to fill the pods and the seed crop is largely developed before the driest part of summer.
156Coming out of the winter the plants begin to grow in two dimensions quite rapidly. Firstly more leaves emerge and a full coverage of the field is achieved. At the same time the flower stalk beings to develop and the green buds can be seen in the middle of the plants. At this stage fertiliser is applied to coincide with the rapid demands of the plants as the growth rate dramatically increases. Again careful monitoring of the crop is carried out and any pesticides are strategically applied according to a strict management programme.
151The crop is usually well established prior to winter and growth slows right down. During this period the plants are quite small having only 4 to 6 true leaves developed and remain as a rosette throughout most of the winter. The plants are monitoring closely for the presence of any pests or disease that may inhibit the growth during the early part of spring. Even in quite low winter temperatures the plants continue to grow and can tolerate frosts and even snow.
165Final ground preparation is carried out and the crop is sown. Great care is taken with the precision sowing as it is important to get good plant establishment and sufficient plant numbers at a healthy stage to overwinter. One of the great aspects of this crop is that it can be grown on most good arable soils without the need for irrigation. This increases the environmental sustainability of the production in that overall use of water resources is minimal and that these can be reserved for other less versatile crops.
164The land is cultivated after the harvest of mainly cereal crops is preparation for the application of fertilizer. OSR is commonly grown in rotation with broad acre arable crops such as wheat and barley, being a member of the brassica family it is an ideal rotational crop and can be grown at a similar scale of production. Early cultivation is important to retain soil moisture for sowing in the autumn