OILSEED RAPE production could reach record levels this coming season, the Home-Grown Cereals Authority has predicted.

Total plantings across the EU-25 are up by around 4-5% on last year‘s 4.5m ha, which resulted in a record crop of some 15mt, said the HGCA‘s Josh Dadd.

Assuming average EU yields stay close to 3.4t/ha, the 2005/06 season could top last years record production.

But at such an early stage in the season, weather between now and harvest will be crucial, he said.

 

Yields key – Dadd

“The key will be down to yields – we saw exceptional yields across Europe last harvest and the weather has been good so far this season.”

While Mr Dadd remained optimistic that the strong demand for rapeseed oil seen over recent years would continue, insufficient crushing capacity is restricting markets, he said.

“This season [2004/05] crushers were working at full capacity, but there is still too much rapeseed on the market, which is why we‘ve seen lower prices.”

The EU Biofuel Directive, which requires 2% of all road fuel to be made from renewable resources by the end of 2005, could help expand markets for oilseed rape, he suggested.

This was echoed by Peter Smith, commercial manager for refined oil at Cargill. EU biofuel production is expected to increase from 2.25m tonnes last year to 4mt by the end of 2005, he said.

A guide on how to grow, market and promote oilseed rape is available from www.hgca.com.

Paul.Spackman@rbi.co.uk