1 October 1999

Dwarf rape offers a high yield potential

FANCY growing an oilseed rape variety that is only two-thirds the height, yet matches the yield, of Apex? That is what is in the pipeline from CPB Twyford.

The variety is Lutin, a fully restored hybrid bred by Serasem in France, and it has just finished National List trials. NIAB has decided not to enter it into Recommended List work, but CPB believes it has a place for UK growers nonetheless.

"It needs no swathing or desiccating, provides easy access for spraying, is very frost tolerant and is resistant to phoma," says operations director John Blackman. Mean height over two years of National List trials is just 104cm (3ft 5in) compared to Apexs 145cm (4ft 9in) and Synergys 165cm (5 ft 5in).

"We see it fitting in on farms with very high yield potential, where lodging is a constant problem. Probably on heavier, wetter soils."

Stem stiffness and lodging ratings for Lutin in the National List work are streets ahead of anything else tested, at 8.9 for lodging resistance and 8.7 for stem stiffness. Apex is the next closest at 8.2 and 6.6 respectively. Light leaf spot resistance is rated at 6.

Besides the cost saving of not desiccating or swathing, yield losses due to crop damage performing those operations would be avoided, says Mr Blackman. "And there is no need for a pgr."

During the winter the plant is very flat, and less competitive with weeds than current varieties. Weed control will need to be well-timed and targeted, he says. "Basically it is a rosette. But that does mean if you want to sow this variety early you can."

Mr Blackman does not anticipate any more problems with pigeons in the dwarf crop than a conventional variety in the field. Advised seed-rate is 3kg/ha, and there could be scope to use more nitrogen and really push yield with Lutin, he believes.

"Looking at oilseed crops this year Ive a feeling many were starved of nitrogen by June. I suspect growers are cutting back the nitrogen for fear of lodging," he says.

This autumn 0.5t has been sold to interested growers across the country and Scotland. Next autumn there should be enough seed for all who want to try some, he adds. &#42

National List yield

Variety Yield (2 yr av)

Lutin 97

Apex 97

Madrigal 102

Pronto 102

Synergy 104

HYBRID RAPE

&#8226 No swathing or desiccating.

&#8226 No pgr needed and no lodging.

&#8226 Yield = Apex in NL work.

&#8226 Potential to push on fertile fields.

This farm trial of Lutin (right), near Framlingham, Suffolk, yielded 4.8t/ha (39cwt/acre). "Thats despite the farmer accidentally swathing it," says CPB Twyfords John Blackman.