Failure of oilseed variety Ritz blamed on stress

Dormancy could be to blame for the failure of Ritz oilseed rape planted this spring, claims a Worcestershire grower.

Charles Hudson, of Wick Manor Farm, Worcestershire, planted 70ha of Ritz earlier this year, but it has taken until now for the crop to take off.

Mr Hudson is one of several growers seeking legal advice after the new variety of rape failed to grow in the spring.

“It’s suddenly emerged at 85% germination,” he said. “It’s obviously a dormancy issue.”

Mr Hudson said the drilled area, which accounted for 20% of his cropping, had been taken over by weeds because it had been too late to sow another crop.

“We sprayed it off two or three times in the summer and because it was too late to get another crop in, the seed-beds were left. It was a mess.

“Now there has been a sudden rush, but there’s no chance of using it now because it won’t ripen,” he said.

“If it was March it would be a perfect crop – it’s a huge loss to us.”

Douglas Harley, director for Senova, said dormancy was the most likely explanation for failed crops.

“We have ruled out a number of the original suspects such as seed quality and treatments leaving us to assume the problems are dormancy-related.”

This could be a result of environmental stresses, he said. “Cold, dry conditions during planting or a lack of light from planting too deep are both factors that could trigger dormancy.

“We are still investigating the issue and don’t have any definite answers as yet.”

Some crops planted in ideal conditions appeared to have performed well, he added.

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