Borage is a spring-sown oilseed crop that can act as a useful break crop in arable rotations. In the late 1990s there was possibly 2,000-3,000 ha being grown, but competition from imports and overproduction led to a fall in market prices leading to a reduction in planting. The current crop area in the UK is estimated at around 700 ha. Average seed yields range anywhere from 0.2 – 1t/ha, but as the plant only loosely holds the seeds a large proportion of the potential yield is lost due to shedding. In Northern Europe, average yields of around 0.6t/ha can be achieved where conditions are favourable.
The crop should be swathed once the most forward flowers begin to shed, which is generally around late July. It should then be combined about a week after swathing, however, harvesting can be difficult due to seed losses from shedding. The crops nutrient requirements are fairly low, with a nitrogen requirement of up to 60 kg/ha, which should be applied to the seedbed. Maintenance applications of phosphate and potash should be made to the seedbed along with the nitrogen.
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