17 May 2002

Right OSRvariety means money

CHOOSING the right oilseed rape variety could add as much as £80/ha (£32/acre) to growers returns, says Banks Cargill, which launched the new RL-topping oilseed rape variety Winner last week.

"But the crop must be managed for yield and quality – for some growers that will mean a complete change in attitude," says seed director Charlie Whitmarsh.

A gradual decline in world oil stocks has put some stability into the market for the crop and new uses are adding to a more positive outlook, he says.

"The biodiesel market, for example, has doubled in size since 2000. With a fairly stable price, the risk of growing oilseed rape is reduced. Returns from oilseed rape look very favourable compared with the other break crops."

Across a five-year wheat rotation, including an oilseed rape crop can increase the average gross margin by £100/ha (£40/acre), he adds.

High oil content and quality are essential to end-users so harvest management is very important, he continues.

"The timing of combining or swathing must be right, the crushers just do not want green or red seed. And growers must avoid over-drying. Oil content below 40% is not good enough, it needs to be 44-45% consistently."

With Winner growers can be confident of achieving yields over 4t/ha (32cwt/acre) he maintains, a point echoed by Dr Richard Jennaway of breeder Saaten Union.

The very high yields are due to the relatively long period between the start of flowering and maturity, he says.

"Winner has a rating of nine for early flowering and a five for maturity."

It has good early vigour and is rated at seven for resistance to both light leaf spot and phoma, he adds. &#42

"It has a reasonable plant height, of 1.50-1.60m, which makes harvesting straightforward, and good stem stiffness and resistance to lodging. So it is easy to grow and perfectly reasonable to expect yields of 4.5t/ha."

&#8226 New conventional variety.

&#8226 Tops RL at 112 gross output.

&#8226 3% above next nearest variety Royal.

&#8226 Banks Cargill sole UK marketing agent.