14 January 2000

Turn-around for SOSR

SPRING oilseed rape is set to bounce back into more growers cropping plans this season, reckons Advanta Seeds.

After seeing its area halve last year, mainly because of increased linseed sowings, spring rape can expect a £39/ha (£15.80/acre) boost thanks to the likely removal of area aid penalties, says the companys Paul Hickman.

Low prices mean the UK area down to the winter crop is about 15% less than in 1998/99, he estimates.

"And at a recent UKASTA meeting the feeling was that EU plantings are also down at the expense of cereal cropping."

All that means that even with a swing back to spring rape, the Maximum Guaranteed Area is unlikely to be exceeded, so accumulated penalties will not be imposed, he says.

The turnaround should make the average 2t/ha (16cwt/acre) oilseed rape crop more profitable than 1.4t/ha (11cwt/acre) of linseed, 3.2t/ha (1.3t/acre) of beans or 3.8t/ha (1.5t/acre) of peas the firms gross margin calculations suggest.

It is still too soon to tell whether growers have appreciated the figures, says Mr Hickman. "But they are reflected in early orders from merchants."