18 August 1995

Hybrid results good, but…

HYBRID oilseed rape Synergy has produced mixed results this year. It appears best suited to heavier, fertile land, where record yields have been achieved.

Generally, yields remain better than conventional types. Provisional National Institute of Agricultural Botany trials put Synergy 7% ahead of an Apex/Falcon control. Although lower than 1994 figures of just over 16%, NIABs Simon Kightley remains optimistic.

Varieties and weather

"We are clearly not seeing the outstanding yields we saw last year. Like several other varieties it has been affected by unusual weather. But I am very encouraged to see it is still performing well ahead of conventional varieties."

The mean of two years of trials shows a "very good" yield advantage of 10% over Falcon and Apex, he adds.

Although that falls short of some French reports of 20-30% better yields, CPB Twyfords Felix Patton is satisfied. "Weve always said a 15% better yield over the best conventional varieties is realistic. Its not far short of that."

He stresses that the amount of extra output is more important than a % figure. "We are talking in the region of 0.5t/ha more yield." That means £50/ha (£20/acre) more profit, after allowing for extra seed and growing costs, he explains.

Synergy was grown on 14 farms this year to evaluate field performance. The 150ha (370 acres) from Sussex to Yorkshire averaged 3.5t/ha (1.41t/acre).

Consultant happy

CPB Twyford oilseed rape consultant Mike Pickford is happy with that. Two crops topped 5t/ha (2t/acre), and on three farms it set new records. "Even under the stiffest of tests good pollination occurred.

On the more moisture retentive soils and where timely sulphur fertiliser was used, top yields were achieved."

Crops hit by drought yielded closer to conventional types, he admits. "I wouldnt plant it on brash."

United Oilseeds Martin Farrow agrees. "It is certainly a variety with huge potential. When its grown on a decent soil it will produce. It has got to have nutrients and moisture to make the most of the yield difference. We suggest not growing it on thin soils."

One grower with an evaluation crop was Martin Robinson of Spring Garth, near Goxhill, South Humberside. He got 5.23t/ha (2.1t/acre). "That beats last years best ever crop of Apex by 14% and tops this years by over 40%."

High yielder

But Geoff Williams crop at North Leverton in Notts gave 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre), 12% above his Apex. "Synergy offers a high yield potential. In a more normal, less droughty year wed expect at least a further 10% improvement."

&#8226 Danish hybrid Cannon has again failed to impress in trials, says NIABs Simon Kightley. A relative yield of 93% means it will not be reconsidered for recommendation.

Despite this breeder Danisco will release enough seed to plant about 200ha (500 acres), to get merchants and farmers onto "a hybrid learning curve", says product manager Hilary Mountjoy. This follows two field yields of 3.68t/ha (1.49t/acre) and 4.12t/ha (1.66t/acre).