14 June 1996

Modified OSR set for 98?

Weed control on arable farms is set to change with the arrival of herbicide tolerant crops. Andrew Blake reports from AgrEvo headquarters in Norfolk

HERBICIDE tolerant spring oilseed rape could be available for sowing on UK farms in 1998. That will bring many benefits to growers, not least an extra weapon in the battle against herbicide resistant blackgrass.

Such was the underlying theme of a press briefing at the AgreNova event. But to make the most of the new opportunities growers should make long-term plans, says the company.

Think weed management rather than short-term weed control was the key message.

Canadian growers already have access to the Liberty Link system. That uses hybrid varieties genetically modified to shrug off the effects of the broad spectrum herbicide glufosinate (as in Challenge). Clearance for a similar scheme is expected in the UK in time for test plantings in 1997. The varieties offer hybrid vigour, which has boosted oil content and given yield increases of up to 38% over conventional Canadian varieties, according to Henk Joos of Plant Genetic Systems.

The fully restored hybrids also offer new ways to manage weeds with glufosinate across the whole rotation, say AgrEvo staff. The novel crops should also help prolong the useful life of other valuable herbicides.

Spring hybrids from PGS are already in NIAB trials. Winter varieties are two years adrift.

&#8226 Simplifies weed control.

&#8226 Expands long term options.

&#8226 Safeguards fop & dim herbicides.

&#8226 Helps counter grass weed resistance.

&#8226 Offers hybrid vigour.

&#8226 Minimal risk of volunteer and gene escape.

&#8226 Commercial spring crops due 1998.

Herbicide tolerance should simplify weed control in oilseed rape, say AgrEvos Les Sykes (right) and Henk Joos of Plant Genetic Systems. The dying plants in the background are a conventional variety.