20 June 1998

HEARS TO LINSEED

THERES a three-way choice on winter linseed varieties this autumn. Two from Dalgety: Fjord and Nordica; and Oliver from Semundo.

All are bred in France, and have good winter hardiness.

Fjord is Dalgetys successor to Arctica. A shorter plant which tillers extensively with a prostrate growth habit, it has better standing ability, but is a tad later to mature than Arctica. Tall Nordica has very early maturity – expect to take the combine through in mid-July.

Oliver from Semundo comes with the reassurance provided by extensive trials work. It has good resistance to lodging, and of the three varieties is likely to give the highest yields, according to NIABs Simon Kightley.

The seed trade is expecting winter linseed to sell fast this autumn, on the back of what looks set to be a good winter linseed crop in 1998.

Oliver is priced at £86/ha (£35/acre), ready dressed with Prelude and with a seed coating. Fjord and Nordica are on sale at about £91/ha (£37/acre) treated with Prelude. Subject to a good harvest, Dalgety expects to have good availability for early orders.

Predicted gross margins on the crop are about £100/ha (£40/acre) higher than those for wheat at about £642/ha (£260/acre), according to figures from Semundo.

Estimates are that the area drilled with winter linseed could come back up to 30,000ha (74,000 acres), after a dip last year following winter kill, pest and disease problems.

The rate of area aid payable on linseed is almost twice that for cereals, but theres a deadline attached. Under the Agenda 2000 proposals, the special support for linseed is to be removed. Agenda 2000 was to have been introduced in time for harvest 2000, which would have made this autumn the start of the last profitable season for the crop. However, a delay in implementation could allow winter linseed another years lease of life…

SOLD under industrial use contracts with Kings of Coggeshall, high erucic acid rape (HEAR) varieties Martina and Askari are taller plant types, reminiscent of the old Bienvenu rape.

Contracts for HEAR this autumn include a price of £140-150/t for industrial rape on set-aside; specialist HEAR rape seed must be sourced from Kings. Seed price is included in the contract details.

Martina tends to suit English conditions, while northern growers choose Askari. Neither variety is as stiff as the modern double low types. With a bulky canopy, they lend themselves to swathing and desiccation. Yield potential is slightly below Apex.

A new HEAR variety – Steffi – is under trial, but seed will not be commercially available this year. Although exact figures are not available, the HEAR area remains steady at somewhere between about 12,000-20,000ha (30-50,000 acres).