OILSEED RAPE yields could be significantly increased with improved agronomy and further varietal breeding, growers have been told.

Even with existing varieties, the aim is to produce average yields of 5t/ha, which are already consistently achieved in Germany, Syngenta‘s Bruce McKenzie told delegates at an NK Seeds Oilseed Rape management day (April 6).

Last year‘s average yield of 3.5t/ha in the UK was less than half the biological potential of the crop, and large gains can be made by better agronomy, he said.

By 2010, he believes that oilseed rape yields have the potential to average nearer 7t/ha with improvements in agronomy and variety characteristics.

“Even with oilseed rape prices of £125/t spending an additional £20/ha on a mid-flowering fungicide could hike yields by up to 1t/ha and a margin to over £340/ha,” he said.

This compares to a more typical gross margin of around £235/ha, which is similar to many second wheats or winter beans, he noted.

In trials, Amistar (azoxystrobin) has delivered yield responses of over 0.4t/ha for both Sclerotinia and Alternaria control, Mr McKenzie added.