24 August 2001
NFU threat to sue over oilseed rape

By FARMERS WEEKLY staff

OILSEED rape breeder CPB Twyford could be prosecuted by the National Farmers Union after receiving complaints about one of its varieties.

Growers of the new varietal association hybrid Gemini claim that more than 10% of plantings have suffered podding problems which have hit performance.

Yields have fallen as low as 1.5t/ha according to reports to the FWi/FARMERS WEEKLY Harvest Highlights service – well below the average.

All 82 complaints, representing 2366ha (5850 acres) of the about 18,000ha (44,500 acres) of Gemini grown, have been investigated, says CPB Twyford.

“We have sorted out 18 cases and the growers have gone away happy. In some cases there were no problems at all,” said company director Theo Labuda.

“But there are three or four others where we are concerned that it appears there was a very limited amount of pollination.”

Mr Labuda admitted that growing a varietal association can be more risky than growing an in-bred, “but the potential benefit is much greater.”

Pay-outs to aggrieved growers are being resisted, however, despite a report alleging that some seed may have gone out with reduced or missing pollinator.

A NIAB study carried out for the Home Grown Cereals Authority, found no pollinator varieties were found in two Gemini crops that were studied.

CPB has maintained that selective winter kill due to low sulphur levels after the wet winter is to blame. But this seems unlikely, the report concluded.

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