Crusher warns of green rapeseed harvest

Food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has issued a warning to growers about harvest deliveries of unripe oilseed rape following one of the most irregular growing seasons in years.

Every year, ADM crushes about 1m tonnes of rape into 385,000t of rapeseed oil at Erith, Kent, making it the largest processing company in the UK.

But as the oilseed rape harvest gets under way, ADM has circulated a statement to its suppliers warning farmers of penalties for delivering high levels of green, or unripe seed.

ADM said all loads containing 4% or more green seeds will be rejected. While loads containing 4% or less will be subject to penalties up to a maximum of 6% off the contract price.

Farmer-owned co-operative United Oilseeds said its policy was to accept loads into its stores with a maximum of 4% green seeds. Loads with higher levels of green seed may be accepted, but subject to a blending charge.

Owen Cligg, United Oilseeds trading manager, said: “The oilseed rape crop this year is late and there is also variability in growth. Parts of fields are maturing before others because of uneven flowering.

“There’s a lot of pressure coming up and everything is getting concertinaed. But if it’s not ready, it’s not ready.”
Owen Cligg, United Oilseeds trading manager

“If you have uneven flowering, you might get a higher proportion of green seed than normal that ups the percentage of green seed in the final sample.”

Mr Cligg added that the late harvest was piling pressure on farmers to get their oilseed rape cut so they can move on to the wheat.

“Farmers shouldn’t be looking to desiccate their rape crops too early,” he said.

“There’s a lot of pressure coming up and everything is getting concertinaed. But if it’s not ready, it’s not ready.”

Green seed increases levels of free fatty acids (FFA) in samples, which, if present in food-grade oilseed rape oil, can affect quality. High levels of FFAs in rapeseed oil were a problem last year, especially in Scotland.

According to a recent HGCA survey, Britain’s oilseed rape harvest is expected to be down by 9% from 2012 levels at 686,000ha. Winter oilseed rape plantings fell 19%, but additional spring rape plantings have offset winter losses.

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