Oilseed rape field© Tim Scrivener

High-quality food-grade oilseed rape varieties which can earn a 10% premium are set to take up to a tenth of the crop area sown this autumn.

Extra seed supplies for these varieties have been secured for next season due to increased demand from the crushers and grower interest.

These varieties with oils which are high in oleic and low in linolenic acid (Holl) are seeing rising demand from restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and KFC.

See also: Hybrids and Holls: 15 years of oilseed rape development

Traders forecast Holl varieties will earn a premium of £20-£25/t for harvest 2016, very valuable after rapeseed prices have fallen nearly £100/t over the last year to about £250/t ex-farm.

Interest in these varieties has been spurred by a Holl variety V316OL coming out as the top earner in HGCA data and strong interest from crushers ADM and Cargill.

Plant breeder Monsanto is offering four Holl varieties, including V316OL, for this autumn and sees the area tripling from the 3-4% current area.

“We expect that there will be enough Holl seed for 8-10% of the total market, that’s 50,000ha plus this autumn,” says Geoff Hall, Monsanto’s commercial lead for seed and traits for Northwest Europe.

With growing European demand for healthier vegetable oils in place of palm oil and some sunflower oil, both the UK-based crushers and some continentals are seeking more UK supplies.

Monsanto, which has about a 40% share of the oilseed rape seed market with top non-Holl varieties Extrovert and Excellium, says Holl seed and contracts are still available through many seed suppliers.

“We are quite optimistic about the Holl market and expect the area down to these varieties might grow to 8% or more,” says David Leaper, seed technical manager at distributor Agrii.

The latest costings from managing agents Strutt & Parker show Holl varieties can give a gross margin some £100/ha higher than non-Holls.

With increased supplies, the Holl premium is set to shrink from a current £35/t to the £20-£25/t forecast for harvest 2016.

Monsanto has secured extra seed supplies for UK growers from continental Europe due to the anticipated strong demand.

Seed trade sources say top Holl variety V316OL is close to selling out after it gave a gross output in the current HGCA Recommended List (RL) for East/West some 2% higher than any other variety.

Monsanto also has an older variety V295OL available along with RL candidate variety V324OL and one from continental Europe V292O.

Seed costs are likely to be comparable to the best current hybrids at about £90/ha compared with top non-Holl hybrids at £80-£90/ha.

Mr Leaper believes V295OL will take the lion’s share of the Holl seed market and could be a good choice as it is more vigorous in the autumn and quicker to grow in the spring than V316OL.

Monsanto expects the national oilseed rape crop in the ground of about 600,000-620,000ha is likely to shrink to 580,000-600,000 for autumn drilling.