Cultivation Principles – Volunteer Oilseed Rape


Control of Volunteer Oilseed Rape

Cultivation Strategy

Leave oilseed rape stubble untouched to prevent predation and the development of secondary dormancy.

Leave stubble for up to 4 weeks to allow for this.

Where soil is moist, shallow cultivations (up to 8cm) will keep the seed where it can germinate easily and it can be sprayed off prior to drilling to reduce populations.

Deep cultivations are more likely to place oilseed rape into dry conditions where there is a greater risk of becoming dormant but emergence of seed is significantly reduced.

Conventional, strip tillage and direct drilling are all appropriate when considering this weed. Note detailed comments on establishment.

Maintain seeds near the surface – avoid mixing surface and sub-surface soil horizons by tillage. Rolling stubbles can be effective to promote germination provided residues are well managed.


Including cereal crops within the rotation will provide opportunities for control. Volunteer oilseed rape is difficult to control in broad-leaved crops such as beans, peas and sugar beet.

Other cultural controls

Cultural control is more difficult due to the size of the seedbank, the persistence of the seeds and their ability to germinate over a long periods. Minimise seed losses from oilseed rape prior to harvest by ensuring an even crop and at harvest by using the correct combine settings.

Residue Management

Ensure an even spread of residues and a good chop of straw to maximise herbicide efficacy and avoid unnecessary cultivations. Straw chopper knives need regular maintenance and changes – often 3 or more times a season depending on crops harvested and use.

Where appropriate (e.g. when direct drilling with appropriate equipment into high residue levels) leave a longer stubble. Mulching of high stubbles can be effective where straw needs time to become brittle after harvest.

Residue spreading and shallow stale seedbed cultivation by raking (multiple passes followed by glyphosate as needed) combined with surface rolling (for effective herbicide action, weed germination & slug management) or shallow discing/rolling is effective to manage residues, help control slugs, and create the best conditions to stimulate weeds outside the crop. Depth to be as shallow as possible, in any event, only just greater than drilling depth of following crop, ideally <5cm. Consolidate after tillage to maintain moisture in the stale seedbed. Surface consolidation is essential after shallow tillage, and through to depth pressing plus surface consolidation is needed following deeper tillage if this is needed.

Maintain seed bank horizons by controlled surface disturbance of all operations. Mixing weed seeds to variable depths reduces efficacy of residual herbicides and prolongs the germination period for weeds, plus allows future crops to be affected by high levels of this species.

Loosening as needed by low rake angle winged tines with adequate lift height for conditions and depth worked. Note ideally the loosening process should be carried out AHEAD of the oilseed rape crop as this is an ideal time for such operations, and gives the crop the best chance of performing well. When done effectively, loosening should not need to be repeated unless circumstances dictate – for example poor harvest conditions resulting in local re-compaction.

AT ALL COSTS avoid: (i) Deep non- inversion mixing; (ii) Failure to consolidate after soil disturbance as this will lose moisture and adversely affect germination potential of the weed seeds.

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