Rape is an annual Cruciferous plant used to produce rape oil. The oil content in the seeds is up to 52%.
Rape oil is among the most popular oils in the world
Rape oil is the third most produced oil after palm and soy oil. It is traditionally used in food production, but biofuels, lubricants, margarine, soap, beauty products, and medicine are manufactured from it as well. Rape as a plant is necessary for the forage fodder production.
There are two main varieties of rape – winter and spring. The former one contains a higher amount of oil but is considered to be insufficiently cold-resistant, and therefore, difficult to grow. The latter one is easier to cultivate and more suitable to the Ukrainian climate conditions.
According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, 1.3 million hectares will be sown with winter rape in 2019, and it is by 28% more than in the year before.
In Ukraine, rape is grown for export to the EU markets. It is now the most expensive oilseed crop with high marginality.
Advantages of growing rape
Rape is considered to be a good green manure crop due to its developed root system, using which it reaches the minerals located in the lower soil layers. The plant also retains moisture well and perfectly saturates fields with oxygen.
Rape forms its green mass very quickly. Consequently, the fields sown with it can be used for cattle grazing. Winter rape greens earlier than other winter crops – in mid-April or early May.
The plant’s rapid growth and lushness protect the field from winds and weed dispersion, and its root system reduces soil erosion.
Slightly acidic black earth soil suits best for growing rape, but actually, the cultivar can grow in any soil with a pH level of 6 to7.
The following crops are the best rotation for rape:
- perennial beans;
- early potatoes;
- annual grasses.
Disadvantages of growing rape
Rape requires large amounts of mineral fertilizers, especially nitrogen. When the plants lack nitrogen they become weak and poorly resists disease, and in case the amount of nitrogen fertilizers is insufficient, the soil nitrogen content becomes exhausted.
When growing rape, the following mineral elements have to be applied:
Rape is liable to infestation by various types of pests. Even nematodes, microscopic worms, can thrive on it.
Rape has small seeds, and therefore, high-precision seeding machinery is required to efficiently cultivate this crop. In addition, due to soil exhaustion, it is recommended to grow it no more than once every 4 years.
Crop cultivation technology
Winter rape is sown in mid-August, expecting that the plants will have an average of 8 leaves by winter time. Spring rape is planted in early spring when the soil temperature is 5 to 7 °C.
Recommended drilling depth:
loam soil – 1 to 2 cm;
sandy soil – 2 to 2.5 cm.
Recommended space between rows – 15 cm; seeding density per square meter – 25 to 50 plants.
Before planting rape, it is necessary to treat the soil to retain moisture and prevent erosion. Mulching with plant residues is the recommended soil treatment.
Rape requires phosphate-potassium fertilizers, as well as nitrogen and sulfur in a ratio of 7: 1.
Rape can be harvested when the seedpods on plants become yellow-green.
China and Canada are the world leaders in rape production. It is profitable to cultivate due to its high marginality and demand in forage fodder, food, and technical production.