14 June 2002

Pollen claims bring OSR breeders spat

CLAIMS that margins from non-Recommended List oilseed rape variety Pollen could beat list topper Winner (Arable, May 24) have been disputed by Banks Cargill.

"To suggest that Pollen could show an increase in gross output of between £20 and £60/ha over Winner is misleading," says Banks Cargill seed director Charlie Whitmarsh.

However, John Ebbage Seeds, which markets Pollen in the UK, stands by its claim. "The £20/ha is based on actual data on Pollen – ARC for yield and oil percentage from other trials," says Ebbages Stuart Cree.

But the ARC results from 2001 used to support Pollen are skewed by a 110.6% yield from Taunton compared to 98-102% at the other six sites, says Mr Whitmarsh.

Had harvest 2000 ARC data been presented, which did not include Winner, it would have revealed Pollen trailing behind tried and tested variety Fortress by an average 3.7% across all 10 sites. He points out that ARC summarised Pollen for that year as: "Late to flower and very late to mature. Average yield."

The problem with Pollen is the limited amount of data comparable with other varieties under UK conditions, he adds. "Farmers should not be persuaded by vague or selective [use of] trial results or because they perform well in France."

Mr Cree says the use of data from north-west France is valid and points out that while Winner is Recommended Listed, it was fast-tracked and hence only includes two years NIAB data.

"Pollen has two years ARC results from a trials protocol that is more akin to farm practice." &#42