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To oilseed rape or not?

David Bouch, Hutchinsons national seed manager, believes that despite recent challenges, oilseed rape still offers a viable option in the rotation ...

With oilseed rape planting decisions for this autumn likely to be a delayed and potentially a spontaneous decision for many, there will still be circa 300,000 ha’s as a projected area at time of writing.

He believes this may vary significantly nearer drilling time, depending upon commodity prices, SFI decisions made in the spring and most importantly, the soil conditions in July, August, and September.

“This will be enhanced further by any increase we might see in prices, which at time of writing are suppressed at circa £370 per tonne.”

Oilseed rape still works for many growers albeit in much reduced numbers,” he says. ”However, the biggest consideration remains conditions at time of planting; if soils are warm and more importantly there is sufficient moisture, then oilseed rape still provides a very viable option in the crop rotation.

“Hybrid varieties offer the best case for establishment and indeed the key traits for the growing season has not wavered – in fact the case has hardened in their favour.”

“Aurelia from Limagrain UK, will remain very popular and is currently the market leader in terms of ha’s planted, but newcomer LG Academic perhaps now offers a little more across the board and is a better option for the north, whilst sitting very well placed on the Recommended List.”

He says Limagrain’s Aviron with its traits and its excellent vigour in both autumn and spring make it a key variety for later drilling opportunities. Attica also should still be considered, as its gross output supersedes Aurelia, with the now familiar LG traits.”

“Other hybrid variety options include Maverick from LSPB, newly added to the candidate list, which has excellent disease resistance on offer with 7 for LLS and 9 for Phoma. It also possesses TuYV resistance and RLMS Phoma genetics, therefore offering a different option for crop management.

“Pioneer’s PT312 offers TuYV resistance and Sclerotinia tolerance. Sclerotinia tolerance has also been shown to have as much as a 15% advantage in yield in untreated trials. PT312 also has very good oil content 47.6%. It also has very strong scores for standing ability.”

“DK Excentric offers the same traits as the highlighted Limagrain varieties, with yield not dissimilar to Ambassador.Whilst not the highest gross output, Dekalb is closing the gap, supporting all their variety sales with an establishment scheme which may prove the decider as to whether to venture into oilseed rape this autumn,” he says.

Clearfield® is a simple choice for me, notes Mr Bouch. “Matrix CL most definitely remains the current standout performer and tops the ADHB listing for this category.”

He recognises Clubroot is likely to remain a widespread challenge. “LG Scorpion ticks all the boxes here with excellent vigour and establishment, decent disease scores and TuYV resistance. Although not on the Recommended List, it has attributes that current recommended varieties cannot match,” he says.

Is there a place for conventional varieties?

Conventional varieties will remain in favour for the home saved seed market, says Mr Bouch. “Here, newly recommended Pi Pinnacle steps into the frame, whilst my other top picks are Acacia, KWS Campus and Annika for those who want the TuYV trait in a conventional variety, although I believe the trait is better served by the hybrid offer.”


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