Pollination query over fine hybrid
HYBRID rape variety Synergy has "tremendous" promise but it is still early days, cautions Mr Kightley. Reliability of pollination still needs to be proved.
"We have seen a handful of hybrid varieties in trials now but Synergy is the only one to stand out. It was the highest yielding in 10 out of 11 trials last year – that really says something."
But the reliability of the composite hybrid system concerns him as much as yield. Synergy consists of 80% male sterile plants. Falcon makes up the other 20% and has to produce enough pollen to fertilise the whole crop.
"In trials this is relatively unimportant. There is a high pollen supply from other varieties. It will be interesting to see how it performs commercially. Last year the weather was good during flowering, we need to see how it performs this year."
Early indications are that in England at least, the crop has pollinated well. Mike Pickford, oilseed rape consultant to CPB Twyfords, is monitoring 160ha (400 acres) across the UK for CPB Twyfords and reckons crops look "good to very good".
Scottish acid test
The acid test this year will be Scotland, which had wet, cool weather throughout flowering, he says. "I shall be looking at these crops next week."
• Fully restored hybrids consist of 100% fertile plants. "These seem to offer a relative increase in security of pollination," says Mr Kightley. The first are now in official trials and he is "very keen" to see how they perform.
So far they appear to be lower yielding than composites, says Mr Blackman. "Fertile plants produce a big seed set in lower pods which restricts raceme growth. Male steriles are slower to set seed, producing longer racemes."