Farm-saving rape threatens income

13 July 2001

Farm-saving rape threatens income

OILSEED rape growers are still jeopardising incomes by farm-saving hybrid oilseed rape seed, warns the British Society of Plant Breeders.

Unlike in-breeding crops and non-hybrid oilseed rape, hybrid varieties produce seed that could be up to 70% less productive than the original seed sown, says BSPB chairman Steve Smith, of Syngenta Seeds.

In fully restored hybrids the yield penalty is 12%. But in variety associations, the effect of the pollinator variety can mean a greater loss and in three-way and top-cross hybrids the recombination of restorer genes can lead to variable levels of pollinator, which may mean less than 30% of plants are fertile.

Quality traits also differ, with glucosinolate contents and seed maturity likely to be more variable, leading to sample problems.

"We believe the message about poorer field performance has not got across as well as it should," says Mr Smith.

Possible causes for hybrid farm-saving are that oilseed rape is less valued as a crop than cereals, that only small amounts of seed are needed and that growers believe the crop has great powers of compensation.

He adds that farm-saving hybrid oilseed rape seed is illegal, unless express permission is gained from the breeder, because hybrid varieties were not included in the EU derogation allowing the farm-saving of crop seed. &#42

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