The potential for benefiting from canopy manipulation of oilseed rape is very high. If the canopy goes beyond its optimum size, shading of pods can cause significant yield loss. Lodging potential is also increased, crops are weaker and become more susceptible to disease.
For the 2008 season SOYLsense has improved the model for winter oilseed rape. Coming out of winter, the GAI should be between 0.5 and 1.0. There is a target Green Area Index of 3.5 at early flowering.
The aim is to build over the spring to this target level. This will require 50 kg/ha N for every unit of GAI needed. Therefore part of a field with a thicker crop at GAI of 2.5 will require 50 kg/ha less N to reach optimum canopy of 3.5 than a crop at a GAI of 1.5. The improved model provides much greater potential for benefiting from variable application of N.
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