Guide to which OSR varieties to drill in summer 2020

There is a whole host of very good winter oilseed rape varieties on the current AHDB Recommended List, with 13 new additions to consider for all areas and growing situations, as well as some interesting candidates coming through.

Picking them apart is more difficult this year, believes Colin Peters, Niab’s breakcrop specialist, who points out that all varieties in trials performed better where there was less flea beetle pressure.

“There were issues with both flea beetle and lack of moisture last autumn,” he says.

“As a result, we’ve seen geographical variability, as success with crop establishment depended on the timing of the flea beetle migration in the local area and whether that coincided with some rain.”

See also: How to use active fallows to repair soils on undrilled land

Looking ahead to 2020 plantings without new drilling date guidance – other than the need to use available moisture – Mr Peters recognises that growers have some big decisions to make in a particularly challenging time for producing oilseed rape.

Top variety picks from the proven performers

  East and West North
  • Aspire
  • Ballad
  • Elevation
  • Barbados
  • Windozz
  • PT275
  • DK Exsteel

“There are different trains of thought on whether to go for cheaper seed and higher seed rates or expensive seed and lower seed rates,” he says.

“There are also the tried-and-tested varieties versus the new-kids-on-the-block decisions to wrestle with.”

Proven performers

Starting with the tried-and-tested varieties, he notes that some popular choices are no longer listed.

“A good example of that is Campus. There’s no doubt that some of these will still be widely grown, as everyone knows what to expect from them.”

Looking at proven conventionals that are still on the Recommended List, he highlights Aspire and Ballad for the East/West region and Elevation and Barbados for the North.

Likewise, proven hybrids and Windozz and PT275 for the East/West and DK Exsteel for the North get flagged up.

“These are all good solid varieties that have produced the goods on farm.”


However, there’s no avoiding that the main variety talking point for 2020 is newcomer Acacia.

A conventional variety from Limagrain, it has been given a UK-wide recommendation and tops the list with a gross output of 109%.

In the East/West region, it has a gross output of 110%, while in the North it is 108%.

“It’s a versatile variety that has done very well in trials,” notes Mr Peters.

Acacia is very stiff, a characteristic liked by growers, but its disease resistance scores of a 6 for light leaf spot and a 5 for stem canker aren’t the highest of the current variety selection on the list.

“Acacia does not have turnip yellows virus resistance, which sets it apart from last year’s top conventional Aspire, which is also from Limagrain.

“Whether that will make a difference or not remains to be seen.”

Mr Peters says that virus resistance is another weapon for growers.

“The issue this year is whether or not you can get it and the yield performance you are after at a price that you want to pay.”

Welcome additions

Just behind Acacia comes a strong selection of new UK-wide varieties all from Limagrain and all beginning with the letter A – Ambassador, Aurelia, Artemis and Aardvark.

“They’re all hybrids with turnip yellows virus resistance, except for Aardvark,” he continues.

“Ambassador and Artemis are taller types, but stiff, with good stem canker scores.

“Aurelia has the best disease profile on the list, with 8s for both light leaf spot and stem canker. It’s certainly caught the eye.”

Both Aurelia and Artemis also perform well in the North, where height and maturity can be more of an issue.

“All of these new varieties are interesting and have good oil contents.

“Getting another year under their belts will be helpful in terms of differentiating them,” says Mr Peters.

In the North, new conventional variety Blazen from KWS offers a gross output of 105%, putting it slightly ahead of the rest.

Other types

The best of the Clearfield types is PT279CL, with suitability for all regions, he believes, but NizzaCL has now been recommended for the East/West region.

Otherwise, clubroot-resistant Crocodile offers a gross output of 105% in the East/West, which is a progression.

“Crome is a better choice for the North on clubroot-infested soils, with a gross output of 103%, which is up there with the best.”

13 new additions to the AHDB Recommended List

Variety Type Recommendation
Acacia Conventional UK
Ambassador Hybrid UK
Aurelia Hybrid UK
Artemis Hybrid UK
Aardvark Conventional UK
Dazzler Hybrid East and West only
Darling Hybrid East and West only
Nizza CL Hybrid East and West only
Blazen Conventional North only
Specialist varieties
Crocodile Hybrid Clubroot resistant
Croozer Hybrid Clubroot resistant
PX131 Hybrid Semi dwarf
Resort Hybrid High erucic acid

Winter OSR candidates

It is early days for the 12 candidate winter oilseed rape varieties that are in the Recommended List system, but there are a few that Colin Peters picks out as showing promise where the data is available.

DSV’s hybrid Voltage is looking strong this spring and has a gross output of 108% in the East/West.

With good standing ability, it also has turnip yelows virus resistance and is up for a UK-wide recommendation.

So is another hybrid, Hermione, from KWS. Although it doesn’t have the highest yields in East/West, it performs very well in the North.

Hermione is a very stiff variety with excellent stem canker resistance.

Two others that are in contention for the East/West region are Antigua from Limagrain and DK Expectation from Bayer CropScience.

“These are both looking very well. They’re hybrids with turnip yellows virus resistance and strong disease resistance packages.”

Cabbage stem flea beetle: Lessons from autumn 2019

Cabbage stem flea beetle is ruining what is an exciting time for oilseed rape breeding with no new regulated chemical control measures available for this year, confirms Colin Peters.

Screening work with biopesticides and beneficials is being carried out by many organisations, he reports, while monitoring of flea beetle movement into crops by Niab will start earlier this year.

This work is being co-ordinated by Aoife O’Driscoll, who is taking the lead in Niab work on the pest.

To date, the work has shown a clear role for white mustard as a companion crop, and future work will involve looking at seed rates and a further understanding of the ecology and lifecycle of the pest.

“What we do know for certain is that pyrethroids aren’t the answer – they won’t do the beneficials any favours.”


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