FIVE WINTER oilseed rape varieties, all conventional open-pollinated types, join the 2005/06 list which sees the demise of the first successful fully restored hybrid, Pronto.

Three of them, Lioness from Cebeco, NKBravour from Syngenta Seeds and Monstanto”s Castille all have higher gross output – the combination of yield and oil content – than Winner.

Growers like Winner”s high yield, but some have concerns about its height, lodging resistance and early flowering, says CEL”s Jim McVittie.

“I worry that Winner seems to be getting more stem canker than it did three years ago.” That probably reflects its wide-scale sowing, which a new HGCA LINK project aims to confirm.

All the newcomers offer agronomic advantages in these key areas, he points out.

Lioness, which provides 4% more output, is shorter, has better lodging resistance during flowering and is stiffer towards ripening. “Many growers like oilseed rape to fall over a bit towards maturity, but it”s always a disaster if it lodges during flowering.”

Lioness is slightly more prone to light leaf spot than Winner, but is more resistant to phoma stem canker. NKBravour, 2% above Winner, is shorter, stiffer and is not quite so early flowering or ripening. “It is not quite so good on light leaf spot, but it is better on stem canker.”

Castille is slightly higher yielding than Winner, has better stem canker resistance and is rather shorter.

Many growers like short, stiff oilseed rape varieties which have less material to tackle when direct cutting, though much depends on the farm”s combine, says Dr McVittie.

“Its flowering and maturity are the same as Winner”s and it”s not quite as good on light leaf spot.”

But, like Es Astrid, which is only one point behind on gross output, it shares the list”s top raking for stem canker resistance.

The latter, a French Euralis variety and the first oilseed rape listing for agent Grainseed, is short, stiff and resists lodging well. It is also later flowering than Winner, which could reassure growers concerned about frost risks, he suggests

NKVictory, Syngenta Seeds” second entry, matches Winner for output and is stiffer and shorter. But it is more susceptible to stem canker.

“This variety will probably be more for the north, where light leaf spot is more of a problem,” says Dr McVittie.