Rapid advances in winter oilseed rape output are highlighted in latest results from the HGCA 2009 Recommended List trials*.

“Oilseed rape breeders are making tremendous progress,” said RL manager Jim McVittie commenting on figures from nine of the 10 trial sites in the east and west region. Only those from Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds remained to be analysed earlier this week.

Five of the top eight performers on gross output – the combination of seed yield and oil content – are candidates for the 2010 list.

Winner, a high-flying control variety first recommended as recently as 2002 and dropped last year, is now near bottom of the list 17 points adrift of the top performers, conventional DK-Cabernet and hybrid PR46W21.

Another hybrid, Compass, is hard on their heels along with conventional Fashion, which has yet to be National Listed.

Despite it being a challenging year yields have been very good,” said Dr McVittie.

Vision, best of the recommended conventional types, has been matched by candidates Krypton and Osprey.

The results include notable site-to-site variations; for example, Lioness rating 113 in Suffolk, but only 92 in Oxfordshire, and Osprey on 11 in Kent, but only 91 in Oxfordshire.

Such differences often mirrored on-farm experiences, noted Dr McVittie. “Growers frequently see exactly the same thing from field to field and it’s something we need to investigate and understand better.

“Overall with oilseed rape varieties it’s best to look at the over-years performance.”

But control variety NK Bravour appeared to have been favoured by the season.

Castille’s relatively poor showing could be down to it not fully exploiting its phoma resistance, he speculated. “I wasn’t a bad stem canker year.”

OSR table

*Table excludes varieties not re-sown in 2010 trials.