18 June 2001
High yields from petal-free OSR

By FARMERS WEEKLY staff

RESEARCHERS at Newcastle University have developed varieties of oilseed rape without petals, offering higher yields and reducing the risk of sclerotinia.

Yields could be boosted by 10-15% by allowing more sunlight through to the green foliage, says agronomy lecturer, Dr Eric Evans.

The lack of petals should also cut disease, because fallen petals are a key point of entry for sclerotinia.

Previously, petal-less oilseed rape varieties were poor yielders, said Dr Evans.

But by crossing these plants with more productive varieties we have developed lines which have both characteristics.

It has taken us five years to achieve these results and the project is still in its early stages, with large-scale field trials due to begin next year.

The university is also looking at semi-dwarf hybrid OSR varieties which might make more efficient use of nitrogen.

Standard-size plants do not make the best use of nitrogen, because they produce a lot of plant growth which is not needed at harvest, says Dr Evans.

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