IT MIGHT have been a ‘Cinderella’ crop for arable farmers in Scotland in the past, but new herbicides, with a unique mode of action, have put a new slant on growing spring linseed.

Premium Crops – a specialist in breeding and marketing spring linseed – said that given difficulties in planting winter cereals this season and the positive returns from linseed, growers should seriously consider growing one of their high omega-3 linseed varieties.

Nigel Padbury, of Premium Crops, said that spring linseed fits well into a rotation, has variable drilling dates (from February to early May) and offers the opportunity to reduce black-grass and wild-oats across the farm.

It also has low growing costs and a positive effect on wheat yields when grown after this crop, he added. “We are thinking that this spring there will be more than 25,000 ha of spring linseed and we have the necessary seed supplies.”

The latest high ALA linseed varieties are attracting the highest contract price of £365/tonne, plus there could be a £20 premium on top of that. “This is the highest price we have offered for the best part of six years,” he said. “With yields of 2.4 to 2.5 t/ha, growers can be achieving a gross margin of over £1000/ha.

“Spring linseed can be drilled late, meaning that glyphosate can be used in a stale seedbed to reduce weed burden. Then, with both Avadex products – Avadex 15G Excel and Avadex Factor – having EAMU’s for spring linseed, they can be applied pre-emergence in linseed and provide a good level of grass-weed control,” he said.

“Avadex is the only non ACC-ase black-grass option in linseed, via its EAMUs and so offers a unique mode of action for a herbicide in spring linseed,” said Barrie Hunt, technical manager for Gowan.

In a typical year 15-20% black-grass germinates in the spring, but we could be seeing much higher levels than this. Weed expert, John Cussans, confirmed that wet soils create anaerobic conditions and this environment induces dormancy in black-grass. “We don’t know how much of the autumn population is affected, but there can be no room for complacency.

“Both Avadex products, granules and liquid, are recommended at their full black-grass dose rate. So you are more likely to get a positive result.” he concluded.