Several new oilseed rape varieties stand out as growers look to chose seed for this autumn’s drilling season, including a new semi-dwarf which could have a role where lodging is a big risk.
Last autumn saw six new additons to the East/West list, for growers up to and including North Yorkshire, and some nine for those further north on the Northern List.
There are now 33 varieties across both HGCA Recommended Lists, with 11 varieties removed including the old favourite Castille.
Of the six newcomers in the East/West region, the conventional variety Quartz offers growers very good diseases resistance with a high score of nine for stem canker.
“It is slower in development and ground cover in the autumn, but excellent against phoma. Varieties with in-built resistance will have a huge management advantage,” says Jim Carswell at advisers Frontier.
Ben Freer at consultants NIAB TAG agrees Quartz is appealing. Although its gross output is not one of the highest (102%) the differences between the top performers are not significant and growers should not get too carried away with differences of two or three percent, he says.
“Quartz would be a good replacement for Castille, whose use is questionable now,” he adds.
New conventional variety Rivalda (103%) looks similar to Cabernet, although there are question marks over its straw strength, says Nick Myers at adviser ProCam.
In NIAB TAG member trials the hybrids are consistently high yielding now. Competing with the well-established PR46W21 are three new hybrids, Marathon, PT211 and Avatar. “It is pretty tight between them,” says Mr Freer.
Mr Carswell believes Marathon looks to be good. It is stiff standing in fertile situations, but with a low stem canker rating of only three growers need to be on disease watch.
One variety which is described rather than recommended on both lists is the semi-dwarf imidazolinone-tolerant variety, DK Imagine CL, which according to Mr Freer could be an option for those growers thinking of giving up oilseed rape because of brassica weed pressure.
“If charlock control has been making you question the validity of growing rape, then taking a bit of a hit on yield with Imagine is viable and a sensible thing to do looking at the value of the crop. It is a longer term strategy to keep growing oilseed rape.”
A hybrid that might offer something different is the semi-dwarf variety Troy which looks attractive in very fertile situations or where there is a strong likelihood of lodging, says Mr Freer.
Mr Myers believes Troy is a variety producers will want to grow. “Until now semi dwarfs haven’t delivered the goods in terms of yield and gross output but Troy (102%) looks to be one of the first producing yields that will be acceptable to growers.”
Its height (139cm) lends itself to easier management and combining, a consideration with the increasing need for sclerotinia sprays, foliar nutrition and late nitrogen, adds Mr Myers.
Despite nine new recommendations, Chris Martin at adviser Agrovista says that it will take more than yield to topple the key varieties in his area. Growers have confidence in growing Compass, Excaliber and Extrovert. Newly recommended variety for this region DK Expower is also a firm favourite.
Varieties that establish quickly like DK Expower and Extrovert are becoming increasingly important in the north, he explains. “Troy also gets going very quickly and in difficult seasons it looks as good as anything else.”
Troy also gets the thumbs up from Scottish Agronomy’s Andrew Gilchrist, who believes the semi dwarfs have punched above their weight, with Troy gravitating to the top achieving the best yields in the firm’s trials. “We estimate they are 30% cheaper to harvest.”
The popularity of the hybrids has started to wane due to their big canopies and difficulty in harvesting, making the semi-dwarfs and shorter conventionals like Anastasia more attractive to the Scottish grower.
“Anastasia has done well in our trials. It is a short variety (150cm) and it has tended to be the compact varieties that have done well.”
Mr Gilchrist is disappointed there are no new offerings to combat clubroot, leaving growers with only one choice in Cracker. The candidate SY Alister failed to gain recommendation and is disappointing in terms of yield, he adds.
Light leaf spot ratings also failed to inspire, although ratings of six and above are manageable, he says.
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