Brassica growers report increase in pigeon damage

Brassica growers are experiencing a serious problem with pigeons this year as increased oil seed rape acreage is attracting the birds to farmland.

Growers claim that the mass expansion of oilseed rape crops is causing the pigeon population to explode as the rape is an ideal food source for pests.

Defra figures show the amount of oilseed rape grown in the UK has increased from 4,000ha in 1970 to 682,000ha in 2007.

The pigeons flock to the brassica crops once they have gorged on the rape.

As a result of this phenomenon, growers are using inventive methods to stave off the pests - which are causing the most damage during crop establishment.

Kent-based brassica grower Geoff Philpott told Grower: "The problem's been worse this year. When they are on the rape they do not bother our crops but as soon as the rape grows six or seven inches high they make for the cauliflower. It was at its worst in late April. That was a really bad month."

Brassica Growers Association chairman and Marshalls technical director Phillip Effingham added:

"For the early part of the year it's a real headache for us on [the east] coast. We have up to 15,000 pigeons on the land and trying to keep them off individual crops when there's nothing else about is extremely difficult."

For more on this story see next week's Grower.


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