23 August 2001
OSR seed needs checking – NIAB

By Tom Allen-Stevens

EXCESSIVE drying of this years sodden oilseed rape crops could cause germination problems for those growers using farm-saved seed, NIAB has warned.

“NIAB Labtest data up until mid-August shows that nearly a quarter of samples tested have had a germination rate of less than 85%,” said NIABs Huw Jones.

Successful germination can be reduced through poor handling – for example heat damage during drying – or mistakes made before harvest, he says.

He advises growers to have the germination levels and thousand grain weight checked to enable them to calculate the appropriate sowing rate for their seed.

“The right plant population is crucial to maximising yields next harvest.”

He also reminded growers that it is a requirement of the Arable Area Payments Scheme to have seed checked for glucosinolate levels.

“The glucosinolate level in the seed lot should not exceed the 18 micromole standard – and the sample must be drawn by a qualified sampler,” he said.

Initial results indicate that levels are lower than in previous years, and Mr Jones puts this down to a change in the favoured variety for home-saving.

“Looking at the samples received so far, the predominance of Apex -a feature of farm-saved oilseed rape for many years – appears to have ended.

“There is no single replacement but two varieties, Fortress and Escort, are now making up about 60% of samples received.”