11 April 1997

Edible oilseed offers growers good break

LINOLA is proving a viable alternative break crop, with more than 200 growers expected to choose the edible oilseed this spring.

"Essentially, linola is an edible form of linseed and should be grown as a spring linseed crop," says Mike Wenham of breeder Nickerson Seeds. "Advantages over conventional linseed are security of marketing through a buy-back contract and price based on oilseed rape values."

Last year – the crops first commercial year – saw prices fixed at the time of contract with a premium of £35/t anticipated. But linseed prices firmed, squeezing premiums, so a new approach is being used this year.

"Prices are now based on oilseed rape values and can either be fixed prior to harvest, or at time of movement," says Mr Wenham.

"Increased production should not cause any marketing problems," he adds. "Seed is marketed by United Grain Growers of Canada, who use it as an alternative to sunflower oil and take as much as we can produce."

Ian Duff of G I Duff & Partners of Warminster, Wilts, grew the crop for the first time last year. "We grow 200ha of combineable crops each year, concentrating on first wheats with a choice of three different break crops – rape, spring peas or spring linseed.

"Last year, we chose linola as an interesting alternative to conventional linseed and were pleased with the results.

"We treated it just as we would a normal linseed crop. It was put into a lightish soil over middle chalk. The seed-bed was ploughed and tined and a low dose of Roundup applied to kill off an onion couch infestation. We drilled at 40kg/ha and later applied fertiliser in May at 90kg/ha.

"In mid August we desiccated the crop using Reglone and a wetter, and then harvested it about a fortnight later at about12% moisture. "We achieved an average yield of 1.69t/ha with an oil content of 44%. The highest yielding conventional spring linseed crop on the farm made 1.96t/ha, but there were some that did not manage 1.5t/ha, so we do not feel that we suffered any real yield penalties.

"This year we plan to double the area grown. With the price based on oilseed rape at time of movement, it could well offer a better margin than conventional linseed," concludes Mr Duff. &#42

Cliff Domoney drilled Coniston linola into 14.85ha of dry soil on Ambrose Scott-Moncriefs Old Dilton Farm at Old Dilton, near Westbury in Wilts, late last week. Ian Duff (inset) of West farm, Warminster, Wilts, who share farms the unit, was pleased with the crop last year.


&#8226 Novel, edible oilseed.

&#8226 Prices linked to OSR.

&#8226 Yield/agronomy like linseed.

&#8226 Fine, firm, moist seed-bed.

&#8226 Drill mid-March/end April.

&#8226 Fertilise to soil index.

&#8226 Good weed control essential.

&#8226 Few pests to consider.

&#8226 Harvest early-mid September.