Spitfire is a modern multi-purpose rape that can be sown in spring for lamb or for cattle finishing or summer dairy grazing, or sown in mid summer to early autumn for autumn and winter grazing.
Spitfire is an intermediate-height rape with a 90-100 day maturity that has excellent yield at first grazing and Spitfire is characterised by three key features; it has excellent aphid tolerance for a rape and has an unusually low stem drymatter (DM %). This characteristic is so pronounced that you can break the stem of Spitfire `close to the ground by hand, with most other rapes you would need a pocket knife to do this. Thirdly, when Spitfire goes to seed it has a pale yellow flower unlike the bright yellow flowers found on traditional rapes.
If using cattle to graze spring sown Spitfire, plan for a single graze as the treading of cattle can reduce regrowth ability. With sheep, plan for at least two grazings, as a third summer grazing may not always occur. If more than two summer grazings are required then Winfred is the better option, especially with cattle.
|Suggested Sowing Time||Suggested Sowing Rate (kg/ha)||Time to First Grazing||Number of Potential Grazings||Potential Yield (t DM/ha)|
|Mid October to early November||3-4 alone, 3 with Relish, Sensation, Tonic or Choice. 1-2 with short term ryegrass||13-14 weeks||1-2||1st grazing 6-9, 11-13 total*|
|Late January to early March||3-4 alone, 2 short term ryegrass||13 weeks||1||6 - 9 depending on sowing date|
*Depending on number of grazings
Stem Drymatter Percentage
A unique feature of Spitfire is that it has a lower stem DM% than the majority of rapes available, this may lead to better utilisation and/or animal performance. Pleasingly, the low DM% does not limit its yield ability or its regrowth potential. However there is some evidence of the soft stems of Spitfire breaking off at ground level from treading, with a subsequent reduction in plant population this may reduce yield from regrowth.