The majority of swede are now sown with a precision drill which requires a fine level seedbed. Early drillings should be made with minimal cultivation passes to reduce compaction. Later drilling in the second half of May or June are often made in hot, dry conditions, so try and undertake the seedbed cultivations in early spring to avoid excessive moisture loss. Try to eliminate as much weed as possible between seedbed preparation and sowing.
Sow Mid April – June
Aim for a drilling depth of 1-2cm. Rows between 38-42cm with 10-15cm between seeds in the row.
Precision drill 0.200-0.300g per acre
Precision seed for swede has the code letter “H” and is 1.75-2.00mm.
Direct drill 1kg per acre
Broadcast – rarely undertaken these days, but the aim would be to sow as close to 1kg per acre as possible.
All fertilizer should be applied to the seedbed. Boron status should be checked for any deficiency.
|Potash (K2O)||215||185||155(-2) 125(+2)||80||0||0||0|
Data source: DEFRA Fertiliser Manual (RB209)
Weeds, Pests and Diseases
As mentioned earlier, try to eliminate as much weed as possible during seedbed preparation.
There are a number of pests which attack swedes from sowing through to maturity. Flea beetle are the main risk during establishment, always use treated seed if possible. Continue monitoring the crop in case follow up treatment is required. If the crop is for human consumption it is particularly important to control cabbage root fly and turnip root fly to eliminate the external and internal damage these pests create.
As with all other brassicas, clubroot is the main disease problem, best avoided by keeping to a good crop rotation leaving at least three clear years between crops. Attacks of mildew on the leaves will reduce yield and may affect the crops palatability if the crop is to be grazed.
Harvesting & Root Storage
Forage swedes can be lifted and stored in a clamp, always make sure the roots carry as little soil as possible and reject any damaged roots as they may introduce fungal diseases.
If the crop is for human consumption appropriate longer term storage and washing facilities will be required.
Typical Yields / Feed Quality
|Average dry matter yield||7 – 9 tonnes/ha|
|Average fresh yield||70 – 90 tonnes/ha|
|Dry matter||10 – 13%|
|Crude protein||10 – 11%|
|Metabolisable energy||12.8 – 13.1 MJ/kg DM|
Typical Cost / Value
|Cost per ha||£403|
|Cost per tonne fresh weight||£5|
|Cost per tonne utilised DM||£62|
|Relative value £/t DM||£109|
|Cost per litre of milk||3.6p|
|Cost per kg/live weight gain||23.5p|
Data source: Kingshay Forage Costings Report 2010