British oilseed rape variety can beat the hybrids

The UK’s only independent oilseed rape breeder, Mike Pickford, was exhibiting his British-bred candidate conventional variety Advance on the DLF Trifolium stand at the Cereals event.

A product of his north Cotswolds-based breeding programme, which is largely based on conventional material, Advance has the highest oil content (46.7%) of all the existing and new oilseed rape varieties, as well as agronomic strengths.

A high gross output of 106 means that Advance has the potential to outperform the hybrids, claimed Mr Pickford, who highlighted its unique combination of very high oil content, earliness of ripening and a short, low biomass growth habit.

“It’s easy to manage, and we know from experience over the years that growers favour these types,” he said.

See also: Prospects look good for oilseed rape harvest

A candidate for the East/West region, Advance sits just below another conventional variety Picto for gross output, but ahead of the two highest-performing hybrid candidates SY Harnas and Popular.

It has 6 ratings for stem canker and light leaf spot and a height of 132cm. “Its earliness of ripening score puts it on a par with Excalibur, which will be of interest to growers who chose that variety for this very reason,” he said.

Growers looking to reduce their costs in the new cropping year should consider Advance, he advised.

“Commodity prices have fallen, so variety decision making is likely to reflect that. Conventionals are cheaper and easier to grow, and they are holding their own in a very competitive and crowded market,” he said.

Mr Pickford’s breeding objective is to raise gross output by looking at the components of yield and producing varieties with a high harvest index and he said that means targeting the number of pods and the number of seeds in each pod.

He also has a candidate winter oilseed rape variety for the North region, Sundance, which is still to achieve National Listing.

Seed of Advance is available for this autumn, confirmed Mr Pickford, through 12 seed retailers.