Set 5t/ha as oilseed rape target

UK oilseed rape growers are failing to maximise the crop’s potential and should be aiming to achieve average yields of 5t/ha, according to one oilseeds trader.

“Some growers seem to think 3t/ha is all oilseed rape can produce and adjust inputs according to this, but in some cases yields can be as high as 7t/ha and an average of 4t/ha is achievable with a bit more attention,” said Glencore’s Nick Oakhill.

Growers need to adopt a similar attitude to those in Germany and France, where oilseed rape is regarded more seriously as a mainline crop and average yields are closer to 4t/ha and 3.5t/ha respectively, he said. This compares to an average yield in the UK of 3.5t/ha.

Mr Oakhill also pointed out that UK crushers are already running close to full capacity (around 1.8million tonnes) and there is little scope to take significantly more tonnage in the short term future.

Longer term however, expanding markets for biodiesel, bioethanol and specialist oils for human consumption are likely to boost the demand for oilseed rape, he said. “In the next two to three years, we will see some aggressive development of biodiesel capacity in the UK market.”

He urges growers to ensure they fully understand what market they are growing for and choose varieties accordingly – whether it’s growing for industrial or specialist human consumption markets.

New low linoleic acid varieties such as Nexera and Splendor could become more popular and will be suited to land being used for growing oilseed rape for the first time due to their need for seed purity and no volunteers, he added.