A few talking points in regard to brassicas as many prepare for the fall planting season. Brassicas are very misunderstood. Historically the industry is built on purple top turnips and dwarf essex rape. They are average yielding and average to below average in attraction. They are 60-day maturity and that in itself has them with their own challenges. Here are the common questions I see on brassicas on social media.
Why won’t the deer eat brassicas?
My brassicas did well the first year or two and then they didn’t.
Why won’t my bulbs get big like some I see on social media?
When should I plant brassicas?
There is science behind these questions. People want simple, cookie cutter answers and that is not something that I can provide to people as easily as I’d like as everyone has their own unique challenges what lies below their feet. Here are some solutions in the simplest ways I can provide.
Sulfur, almost everyone is deficient in sulfur and yet next to no one replaces the levels brassicas remove each year. Brassicas are the biggest miner of sulfur each year and the industry are uneducated on its importance. I have most of my clients on a sulfur program whether it’s via dry or a liquid program.
Staggered maturity brassicas. You want to plant a diverse set of brassica genetics to better handle mother nature. You also want to extend the window of attraction. What grows the fastest is most attractive early. What grows the slowest becomes more attractive a bit later in the growth cycle. People focus on 42–60-day brassicas whereas my approach I want people to consider is to include more 80-100 day maturity brassicas. People plant many brassicas too early and then they become over mature, and the sugars and nutrients plunge and result in deer refusal.
Adequate Nutrients. So many people use not enough p and k on their brassica blends. What nutrients you need to provide is based on the yield of that blend and your current soil nutrient levels. Many people are already behind the 8 ball. Many people already have an imbalance of p and k and are depleted and are planting forage blends that further challenge your soil nutrient balance. Over 90% of soil samples I view are depleted in potassium and that nutrient is overlooked as part of the growth and attraction equation. In a world where so many use 200 lbs. per acre of 12-12-12 on their fall plots, they might need 300 lbs. per acre of 18-18-18.
Bulb size does not equate to success. We see so many pictures of people holding huge turnips or radishes. In the world I am in, we focus on bulbs not for their attraction but their soil nutrient storage and soil bio drilling. Big old bulbs tend not to be consumed by cattle or wildlife as well as those less woody or with more sugars. The tops should be the focus. Top growth lacks with old genetic brassicas and is the focus on the new genetics. There are some incredible new genetic brassicas I’ve been testing for the past 4 years. They need to be treated differently but the end result is incredible growth, and a much better handling of what mother nature throws at us.
I am still trying to finish the book of brassicas but today I wanted to share some thoughts with the public.