What the 4 new oilseed rape varieties offer next season

Oilseed rape growers have two new high-yielding conventional varieties along with a hybrid and a semi-dwarf to choose from when establishing next season’s crop.

Regardless of their type, the newcomers on the East and West Recommended List will be compared with the best of the existing varieties in their category, as growers consider the pros and cons of changing their current line-up.

See also: Clubroot on the rise with tighter rapeseed rotations

Conventional varieties

For those interested in conventionals, the top performer on the AHDB list is still Elgar with a gross output of 110% – so the new additions Flamingo and Nikita will have to prove themselves this year if they are going to make any headway.

“Of those two, a bit less is known about Flamingo as we have an extra year’s data on Nikita,” points out Simon Kightley, oilseeds specialist with Niab Tag.

“But they are worth a closer look, especially as grower interest is focused on conventional varieties at the moment.”

Both Flamingo and Nikita are high yielding and have high oil contents, but they can be differentiated on other characteristics, he suggests.

Flamingo, with a gross output of 109%, is in the same medium height bracket as Elgar, while Nikita on 108% is shorter.

“Nikita is an early flowering type with medium maturity,” says Mr Kightley. “Flamingo is slightly later to flower and mature.”

Flowering oilseed rape © Tim Scrivener

© Tim Scrivener

Mr Kightley adds that all of the top conventionals have shown good resistance to lodging and stem stiffness, and all are moderately good for light leaf spot with a score of 7, on a 1-9 scale where 9 is good resistance and 1 is very poor.

“Elgar is better for stem canker than the other two, with a rating of 6. Flamingo and Nikita are on 4, so growers will need to pay good attention with autumn phoma sprays.”

Hybrid choices

Turning to hybrids, the newcomer Aquila is also on a gross output of 108%. It will have to make a case for itself against the existing hybrids Windozz, Alizze and Wembley, which have all performed well in their first commercial year.

“Wembley is 1% lower for gross output but it has shown good consistency, which growers do value,” explains Mr Kightley.

“Windozz and Alizze have the same levels of yield, but can be differentiated by their light leaf spot scores – with Alizze having the advantage with the higher score of 7.”

Combining oilseed rape © Tim Scrivener

© Tim Scrivener

In comparison, Aquila is slightly taller than Alizze, as well as being slightly later to flower. It also has better stem canker resistance, with an 8 rating, but is moderately susceptible to phoma stem canker with a 6.

“Growers should always expect the rankings of new varieties to settle down a bit. In terms of gross output, they are all within 2% of Elgar, so there really isn’t much between them.”

Semi-dwarf addition

The new semi-dwarf, Secret, will be compared with Troy, which was first listed in 2013, he continues.

“It has a 6% advantage on gross output [in the East/West] and has the early flowering and relatively early maturity that the semi-dwarf varieties have missed out on up until now.”

Secret also gets up and gets going early, so shouldn’t have issues with pigeons and weed competition. “It’s moderately good for light leaf spot with a 7 and good for stem canker on 8.”

It is also the only new addition to the North list, where it has a 2% advantage on gross output over Troy.

Otherwise, the high erucic type Ergo has been described, he points out. Comparable to the other Hear (high-erucic acid rape) varieties on the market, it has good lodging and stem stiffness, with medium maturity.

“It is, however, susceptible to disease, so it will need managing accordingly.”

Ones to watch

Looking ahead, Simon Kightley picks out a candidate oilseed rape variety as one to watch.

The conventional Django looks interesting in the East/West region, with a gross output of 110% and disease resistance ratings of 7 for stem canker and 6 for light leaf spot.

“It’s very early days and far too soon to get carried away,” he points out. “However, it is higher than any other variety on yield at this stage, as well as being short and stiff.”

In the North, conventionals are also leading the way among the candidates, with Broadway and Kielder performing ahead of Django.

Additions to 2017-18 Recommended List compared with the top five

East/West region

Variety Gross yield (%) Type Height (cm) Light leaf spot rating Phoma stem canker rating
Flamingo* 109 Conventional 149 7 4
Nikita* 108 Conventional 145 7 4
Aquila* 108 Hybrid 154 6 8
Elgar 110 Conventional 150 7 6
Windozz 108 Hybrid 147 5 5
Alizze 108 Hybrid 151 7 5
Wembley 108 Hybrid 148 7 5
Secret* 100 Semi-dwarf hybrid 119 7 8
Troy 94 Semi-dwarf hybrid 130 6 4

North region

Variety Gross yield (%) Type Height (cm) Light leaf spot rating Phoma stem canker rating
Secret* 97 Semi-dwarf hybrid 119 7 8
Troy 95 Semi-dwarf hybrid 130 6 4

* = new varieties; Con = conventional open pollinated; disease ratings on a score of 1-9.