2 August 2002

Hybrid OSRs do well in central and south areas

WITH a bumper oilseed rape harvest in central and southern England drawing to a close, it is clear hybrid varieties have had a good year.

But so have the conventionals, with Winner maintaining its fungicide treated Recommended List chart topping position with results from five out of 18 sites available on Tuesday.

"Yields overall are 0.6t/ha higher than our four-year average at 4.58t/ha," says NIAB`s Simon Kightley.

"The average at a Notts site was a phenomenal 5.81t/ha. This shows there is a lot of potential still to be squeezed from the crop."

But the sandy clay loam site at Bingham was not Winners best – hybrids Royal and Disco beat it by 1% and 3%, respectively on seed yield and Borneo and Spirit matched its 105% of controls performance.

Where Winner has scored is on the lowest yielding sites so far, the heavy clay at Knapwell, Cambs, where the all variety average was 3.7t/ha and brickearth soil at Ashford, Kent, where the average was 4.3t/ha. Here, it came in with 115% and 117% of controls.

Overall, hybrid Borneo is beating Winner by 1%, and Royal is matching its 109% mean yield, but when oil content is taken into account the conventional variety is likely to be 2% clear, comments Mr Kightley.

"Winner has had three good years with us so looks a winner."

But it is out there on its own for the conventional varieties. Next closest colleague is Recital at 104 with the bulk of the popular commercial types at 99 or 100% of controls, 10% off the pace, says Mr Kightley.

Escort is slightly below expectations at 95% of controls, compared to a 99% average in the previous four years, he adds. Going the other way hybrids Borneo and Mendel have added 5% to their previous ratings of 105 and 100% respectively.

Arable Research Centre results, where trials are given a commercial farm practice fungicide regime, as opposed to the HGCA no holds barred disease control approach, confirm the hybrid surge.

"Hybrids appear to have had a relatively better year than last and are towards the top of the performance tables," says director, Mike Carver. "But everything has done well, and although Apex is consistently out-performed, it is reliable so still wanted."

In the field anecdotal evidence also points to pleasing performances from the hybrids, but all varieties appear to be having a good year.

For example, First Agronomys Mark Grubb says rape yields are the best he has seen for several years and the performance of Disco on one Northants farm is exceptional.

"A massive 2t/acre was combined across 150 acres. Elsewhere in the county, 200 acres of Apex did 27-28cwt/acre and Pyramid topped 30."

Glos-based AICC agronomist Jonathan Olver reports conventional variety Canberra coming close to the 5t/ha (2t/acre) mark too. "A grower near Wotton-under-Edge combined an exceptional yield, 100 acres at just a shade short of 2t/acre."

Norfolk-based Morley Research Centre also reports early harvested crops doing well. "We are getting reports of 4t/ha or more and the majority of growers are satisfied," says MRCs Ben Freer. "Some conventional varieties have yielded as well as hybrids so growers are right to question the need for a hybrid variety." &#42

&#8226 Five of 18 RL results in.

&#8226 Hybrids doing well.

&#8226 Winner only close conventional.

&#8226 Most conventionals 10% behind.

Delayed OSR

Pollen beetle and pigeon damage as well as late nitrogen uptake mean many southern oilseed rape crops have been slow to mature, notes Hampshire Arable Systems Steve Cook. "Many have been hanging fire."