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Record turnout for Duchy Brassica Trials Open Day and Conference

Many of the newest and current brassica genetics were on display at the Duchy Autumn and Winter Cauliflower Trials Day and Conference held in Cornwall earlier this year ...

Growers and seed representatives from all over the UK, including Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as Brittany, attended the event.

“The high turnout proved how much these trials are valued by the industry and how important they are to them, despite taking place during a bitterly cold snap resulting with very few curds to see, ” says Duchy College’s Crop Trials Co-ordinator Sophie Rapson.

Duchy College has been working in partnership with international seed houses and local growers, evaluating commercially available Autumn and Winter Cauliflower cultivars over the past 31 years, which has resulted in the development of these trials.

The trials are hosted at Trevarnon Farm, Gwithian, Cornwall on sandy clay loam where the farm rotation is based around brassicas, cereals, and cover crops.

Hutchinson’s technical support for vegetables, Peter Waldock said: “The event is important as it provides the brassica sector with an opportunity to view the performance of new and current cauliflower genetics in-field from all the major brassica seed houses and assess how they work in sequence to fit in with grower programmes.

“Although some of the early planted winter varieties suffered from the mild, wet November and December weather, those that went in later showed a higher percentage of Class One produce,” reported Ms Rapson.

“The long term objective of these trials is important as some of the varieties displayed were relatively new introductions and long-term averages over more than three seasons provide a better guide to performance.”

Recent improvements in plant breeding have focussed on introducing traits such as such as better uniformity, disease resistance, and curd protection.

“Viewing new cultivars alongside current and established varieties provides growers with important information with which to make their choices.”

“The event was a showcase for the industry to come together, and the trials provided excellent results with some outstanding performers.”

A record number of delegates also attended the evening conference to hear presentations from the breeders highlighting their most exciting new prospects and how some of their new varieties will help growers address challenges such as climate change, heat tolerance (for summer brassicas) and provide varieties which will provide a consistent yields and quality across different conditions.

These talks were followed by Andy Richardson from the Allium and Brassica Centre, who updated the audience about the crop protection product options for brassica growers.

Despite some plant protection products being under threat, there is hope on the horizon from new actives which should be approved within the next few years, reported  Mr Richardson who is technical coordinator for the Brassica Growers Association and works closely with Dr Kim Parker from Horticultural Crop Protection.

Since the demise of AHDB Horticulture, minor use applications of plant protection products (EAMUs) have been taken over Horticulture Crop Protection (HCP). The company,  whose work includes carrying out residue and efficacy trials to support applications where necessary, is funded by the crop associations.

He revealed that insecticide manufacturer approvals going through the system include Syngenta’s Flonicamid (Afinto), which will mirror the Teppeki label, and BASF’s Dimpropyridaz (Axalion).

“Aphid and whitefly control in the brassica sector is challenging, so this is some exciting news,” said Mr Richardson.

There is reason for optimism around the fungicides available for the sector going forward, reported Andy, noting that HCP applications on fungicides include Fluxapyroxad (Allstar) in kale/collards. “HCP have had recent discussions with CRD and hopefully the EAMU will be in place for 2025.”

Manufacturer new approvals in the wings include Pydiflumetofen (Adepydin) from Syngenta and BASF’s new Mefentrifluconazole (Revysol).

Revysol, which has FRAC code 3, was launched for top fruit in 2024 and in trials it has shown itself to be effective, with approval anticipated to be by 2026, he said.

“Adepydin is a new generation SDHI, which looks really good, and Syngenta also have

Oxathiapiprolin + metalaxyl-m which is an exciting option for downy mildew control. In addition, Bayer are also presenting their new generation SDHI-strobilurin mix of Fluopyram + trifloxystrobin.

Moving on to talk about weed control, he noted that it is always particularly challenging for a small sector such as brassicas, yet some interesting developments are in the wings.

“BASF also have a straight formulation of the residual herbicide Dimenthenamid-P coming to market, which  is really good news as it will make it safer for us to use both pre and post planting.”

In addition, swede crops are also likely to benefit from two new products, with applications for Korvetto and Metamitron being considered.

The evening provided not only an opportunity for the industry to come together to discuss how new genetics and other developments in the brassica world address current challenges in the sector but also the opportunity for a much-needed social event.

Sophie says: “Since the demise of AHDB Horticulture, there had been uncertainty surrounding the future of the trials.

“Thanks to the support from the local horticultural industry, international seed companies, Duchy College, and Hutchinsons, the trials for the 2022-23 growing season went ahead.

Hutchinsons Fresh Produce Manager Dr Tim Lacey said: “Having been an integral part of brassica growing in the South West, Hutchinsons are delighted to support this event and we were pleased to see so many growers, representatives from the seed trade, local industry, and researchers present.

The concluding Open Day for the 2023-24 season is set for Thursday, March 7, from 2:00 to 4:30 pm.
For additional information, please contact Sophie Rapson at Sophie.rapson@duchy.ac.uk or mobile 07980 932 305. 


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