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St Valentine - who was he?

Date Added: 12/02/2016

Blog: By Richard Elsdon, United Oilseeds Technical Consultant

There seems to be about 12 St Valentines mentioned by the Catholic Church, but for my purpose I will narrow them down to just two.  One died in AD 270, but apparently his good works were "only known to God" and the other was a bishop who helped Christian couples to marry.  Unfortunately, this did not go down well with Claudius ll who had him beheaded. That was bad enough, but the poor chap's skeleton was subsequently found in the early 1800's and various parts of it were then sent all over the world, including Great Britain. To muddy the whole uncertain story further, it is claimed by scholars studying the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer that it was in fact he who invented the idea of Valentines Day, in a poem written in 1375 called "Parliament of Foules."

 I mention all of this as mid February has often been the time when growers of oilseed rape, bored with winter and with the shooting season having finished, start considering the application of nitrogen to the crop.  Please do not!  Not yet anyway.

 We have seen one of the longest autumn growing seasons for a very long time. The result is a crop which is possibly bigger than ever before and certainly one which has accumulated a great deal of nitrogen in the process.

 Take a careful look at this crop. How many true leaves does it have? How many plants per m2 do you have?  Most important,  how do these two factors come together to produce a green area index (GAI)?
If, as I suspect,we are looking at a crop which has a GAI of more than 2 and has already started early stem extension, then it does not need any early nitrogen. The first application could well be delayed until the stem has at least 6" of growth.

 How much nitrogen are you going to apply? This is where you need to go back to your GAI reading. It will tell you how much nitrogen the crop has accumulated. You can then use our nitrogen calculator to calculate how much more the crop needs. Click here for our Nitrogen Calculator Nitrogen Calculation.xls 

Some growers have said in the past that they need to go on relatively early with the compound contains the sulphur for the crop. Recent work has shown this to be a myth. As long as the sulphur is on before the late green bud stage that is good enough.

 Looking forward a little, if the crop is either lush or forward or both then you need to discuss with your agronomist the need for a spring PGR. This crop must not lean or fall over at any time during the rest of the season.

 There may be a cloud of uncertainty surrounding St Valentine but there is little room for uncertainty this spring with the oilseed rape crop.  Timing, as ever,  is everything. But in general, delay is called for.



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