Certified seed sales for hybrid oilseed rape varieties have for the first time exceeded sales of conventionals, according to new estimates.

Detailed estimates of certified and farm saved seed usage gathered by the Masstock seed team from across the industry suggest hybrid varieties accounted for just over 60% of this season’s sales of certified “double low” winter oilseed rape seed. This represents a massive turnaround from the 15% market share in 2006.

Overall, the estimates indicate UK double low crop plantings have grown to another all-time record this autumn, with speciality Vistive and industrial HEAR (High Erucic Acid Content) crops pushing the total national winter oilseed rape area to around 650,000ha.

“Together, the continued expansion of the national crop and the increase in the popularity of hybrids means hybrid seed sales have grown from less than 50,000 ha in 2006 to almost 300,000 ha this autumn,” notes Masstock national arable seed product manager, Barry Barker. “That’s an increase of around 500% in just six years.

“Although farm saving means pure lines still comprise over 50% of the present crop in the ground, this is steadily eroding from two thirds last year and a good 70% in 2009. Back in 2006 pure lines represented over 90% of national plantings,” he adds.

A combination of excellent price prospects and the exceptional performance of so many crops last season is clearly behind record winter oilseed rape plantings this time around. And hybrids seem to be proving increasingly attractive as the availability of top quality varieties offering particular commercial performance consistency, sowing date flexibility and disease resistance has increased.