RL 2010: OSR conventional varieties strike back

The two new additions to the HGCA Recommended List for the east and west region show that there’s plenty of life in conventional varieties.

With DK Cabernet topping the Recommended List with a gross output of 111, it’s clear that conventional varieties still have the potential to keep up with the hybrids, says Simon Kightley of NIAB.

“It was always seen as a very promising variety and it’s maintained its momentum, equalling the performance of the highest yielding hybrid on the list,” he points out.

DK Cabernet has very good standing ability – a key characteristic in Mr Kightley’s opinion – and moderate disease resistance. It’s also slightly later maturing than most winter oilseed rape varieties, but he doesn’t expect that to dent its appeal.

“Winter oilseed rape doesn’t have a problem reaching maturity, so this won’t be a critical factor. And all the mainstream varieties need to have close attention paid to phoma sprays.”

Compared to the current top selling conventional, Castille, DK Cabernet is taller. “It’s not a low biomass variety. But growers who want to address the static yield problem they keep reporting should see this variety as one way of doing that.”

The other new addition, Fashion, is also an excellent variety, notes Mr Kightley. “It’s come onto the list with a gross output of 108, very good standing ability and medium maturity.

“There’s no doubt that it will attract a following and, although the trials in the north were abandoned, Fashion has been doing very well up there.”

And that’s the key difference between the two newcomers, he stresses. “Fashion is a UK variety, whereas DK Cabernet doesn’t do so well in the north. But both show that there’s every good reason to grow conventional material.”

Barry Barker of Masstock points out that DK Cabernet has significant market share already, having been marketed for a couple of years ahead of recommendation.

“That’s going to make things more difficult for Fashion, which is a solid variety, but has to come from a standing start.”

Marion Self of Prime Agriculture agrees that there is now real reason for growers to move on, but adds that history shows that growers don’t like later maturing varieties.

“For this reason, some will see a problem with DK Cabernet. The answer is to partner it on farm with an earlier type. This could be where Fashion has a place – it certainly deserves its place on the list.”

Having so many winter oilseed rape varieties to choose from allows growers to meet the very specific requirements of different parts of the country, she believes.

Lee Bennett of Openfield sees hybrid seed sales being hit by the arrival of DK Cabernet and Fashion. “They’ve dipped a bit this year anyway. The sowing windows for them never really appeared and now we’ve got some very strong competition.”

Dave Robinson of TAG considers that growers have too many varieties to choose from. “The market is oversupplied. A merchant will only ever offer four or five varieties, so local choice depends on what’s in stock.”

For this reason, he describes both DK Cabernet and Fashion as useful alternatives. “The good news for growers is that they are conventional types.”

Spring oilseed rape

Belinda and Tamarin are welcome additions to the spring oilseed rape Descriptive List, being high yielding types, says Mr Kightley.

“Belinda is a hybrid with a gross output of 104 and medium maturity,” he says. “Tamarin is a conventional variety, offering the same gross output as Delight, but being a bit taller.”

The third newcomer is Colossus, which has a gross output of 97, putting it further down the order.

For more news from the HGCA Recommended List click here.

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