PLANTINGS OF a specialist spring oilseed rape variety Nex 160, which produces a healthier oil, could treble next spring following a successful first campaign in 2004, and the guarantee of at least a £15/t premium.

Yields in 2004 averaged 2.24t/ha, with a high of just over 3t/ha, and an average oil content of 43.5%, says Ian Munnery of United Oilseeds Marketing, which has sole marketing rights in the UK. “That’s higher than the average oil content from double-low rapeseed delivered to the crush in October.” Guaranteed premiums of at least 15/t over double-low rapeseed are being offered for 2005, with additional quality bonuses under FOSFA 26A, confirms United Oilseeds’ Chris Baldwin.

“Premium specifications are easily achievable.”

Natreon oil produced from Nex 160 is more stable and healthier than commodity rapeseed oil because of its higher oleic acid and lower linolenic acid contents, says Dow AgroScience’s Tim Hancock. “It is in demand from the food industry.” Samples of Nex 160 in 2004 averaged an oleic acid content of 72% and 2.7% linolenic acid, easily meeting the minimum oleic content of 70% and maximum 3.5% linolenic content, says Mr Baldwin.

Seed is available for up to 10,000ha this season costing 6.75/kg, adds Mr Munnery. “We’ve kept the price low to encourage growers to try some.”

More Nexera varieties producing natreon oil are expected in future, with winter types available possibly by 2007/8, says Mr Hancock.