5 December 1997

Hyola: spring rape saviour?

By Allan Wright

NEW fully restored Hyola spring oilseed rape varieties could help prevent the Scottish oilseed rape area halving if Agenda 2000 proposals are adopted.

The EUs plans would see a flat rate of area aid for cereals and oilseed rape, leaving rape at a significant disadvantage to cereals, says SAC oilseeds specialist Kerr Walker.

Indeed, lower area payments would eliminate up to half the Scottish rape area, says Hugh Phillips of Scottish Agronomy.

Only by using hybrids now and GM varieties in the longer term can rapes economic viability be maintained, says Mr Walker.

Half the Scottish rape area is spring sown, so Advanta, formerly Zeneca Seeds, believes its fully restored Hyola hybrid spring rapes could help a lot.

Newcomers to dominate

Mr Phillips believes the newcomers will dominate spring seed sales in 1998. "Generally, the Hyolas are outyielding turnip rapes by 20% and are matching yields of conventional, later maturing swede rapes. Earliness is vital to Scottish growers and I can see Hyolas dominating the market."

Advanta promises plentiful supplies of Canadian produced seed for both the early maturing Hyola 38 and the later maturing, but higher yielding Hyola 401.

However, the seed will attract a price premium, selling at £59/ha compared with £39 for conventional varieties. At current prices that would demand a 4% yield lift to cover the extra seed costs. Recommended list trials show Hyola 401 and Hyola 38 are 8% and 7% higher yielding than conventional alternatives respectively. Oil yields are also significantly higher, says Advanta.

Farmers testing the Hyolas have been impressed. Stuart Milne has grown Hyola 38 for two years. Farming 324ha (800 acres) at Barnes Farm, Fife, he has 34ha (85 acres) of spring rape and rather less of winter varieties.

Winter crops average 4.3t/ha (35cwt/acre) but they are more expensive to grow and there is difficulty finding a suitable entry for early drilling.

"The spring turnip rape Kova has been grown purely for its earliness, because yields average 2.47t/ha and it did just 1.4t/ha in this past, difficult season. But the Hyola 38 seemed more resilient and gave 2.1t/ha. Last year it did 2.7t/ha," he says.

Alex King has been testing Hyola 401 at Wolfstar, East Lothian. He achieved more than 3t/ha (25cwt/acre) this past year, while his conventional Kova and Kulta turnip rapes were down at 2.3t/ha (18cwt/acre).n

Adam Christie of Scottish Agronomy shows the short growth, good standing power and early maturity of one of the new fully-restored Hyola hybrid spring rapes (left) compared with a conventional variety.

SCOTS RAPE

&#8226 Agenda 2000 profit worry.

&#8226 Hybrids and GMs needed.

&#8226 Hyola fully restored spring hybrids 7-8% higher yielding.

&#8226 Higher seed cost.

&#8226 Husbandry no different.