New oilseed rape variety to open potential market?

A new oilseed rape variety with the potential to produce oil suitable for use as a hydraulic oil or lubricant is being trialled by farm management company Velcourt.

The unnamed variety is a mutant derived from chemical mutagenesis and has an oleic acid content of 80% or above.

The genetic mutation has caused a specific enzyme called FAD2 to be de-activated, which prevents the oil from being converted back to polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) after crushing. It is the PUFA content that normally limits the use of rapeseed oil in stressed situations.

“This will enable it to withstand heat and pressure and the oil produced from our trial will be vigorously tested to fully evaluate its potential,” Velcourt technical manager Keith Norman told Farmers Weekly.

As partners in the LINK project consortium, testing the oil will be Cargill’s and lubricant manufacturer Fuchs responsibility and could open new markets to oilseed rape growers.

Potential uses would include hydraulic oil, chainsaw lubricants, two-stroke oil and due to its low environmental impact potential – marine lubricants.

Velcourt’s involvement means they will have the access to a potential growing contract before it would be grown on a wider scale across the UK.

“Velcourt as a company focuses on the crops that we are best at producing, and oilseed rape is one of those crops,” said Mr Norman.

“This a potential niche within that market and there is a potential to receive a healthy premium if the oil makes the relevant quality standards.”

There were questions over the variety’s winter hardiness and mutagenesis can result in unwanted traits in the subsequent phenotype, he said.

However, Mr Norman was quick to point out that after a cold and testing spring, they have still managed to produce a respectable crop.

“It’s not quite as vigorous as many varieties, but it didn’t require any extra agrochemical input. Any unwanted traits can be back-crossed out anyway,” he added.

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