Top performing oilseed rape variety Charger looks set to become a firm favourite
Top performing newly recommended oilseed rape variety Charger looks set to become a firm favourite with growers looking for yield improvement. Dominic Kilburn writes.
A natural successor in the tradition of Apex and Castille is how NIAB TAG oilseed rape specialist, Simon Kightley summed up new variety Charger, the joint highest yielding variety on the Recommended List (E&W) and one that has performed consistently well in trials over distinctly variable seasons. Lets face it; growers are spoilt for choice, said Mr Kightley, speaking at a KWS and United Oilseeds briefing. There are four newly recommended varieties that were added to the List last autumn and they seem to have moved ahead of the pack, he suggested. He listed Incentive (a hybrid with UK-wide appeal), Charger (short, stiff, early flowering and a high yielding conventional variety for the E&W region), Trinity (a medium height conventional variety that top yielded in 2013) and Harper (a hybrid with excellent stem canker resistance), as new varieties that were giving growers plenty of options ahead of planting this autumn. I am particularly excited about Charger, continued Mr Kightley. We wont see the type of single variety dominance that we saw with Apex and Castille but when you consider the key varieties from the past two decades, Charger could be the natural successor; a gross output of 105, it is up there with the best yielders conventional and hybrid but down among the shortest types (141cm) for ease of management, he pointed out. Mr Kightley said that, in terms of gross output in a poor growing season, Charger had been head and shoulders above other varieties and its stem stiffness (9) was insurance during bad lodging years. Flowering early ahead of other varieties as it does is not a fantastic feature in itself, but the sooner the flowering the better because if something goes wrong in a weather event, it can flower again and catch up, he said. With a low disease resistance rating for both light leaf spot and phoma, Mr Kightley said that two autumn fungicide sprays followed by another at stem extension should be sufficient to control the main diseases. Even the most resistant varieties wont get away without a spray and, with Charger, a good fungicide programme will deliver the yield, he commented.
Consistency is key KWS OSR product development co-ordinator, Tom Dummett pointed out that Charger should be viewed as one of the most consistent performing varieties on the List, particularly as over three years of National List and Recommended List trials the varietys mean yield had never been below 5t/ha, while the best of the rest dipped to 4.52t/ha and the remainder at least 0.5t/ha behind. Charger is consistent its variation in yield is very small, said Tom. In 2012, when a lot of varieties lodged, Charger lost less yield than others, and it performed very well in the exceptional year of 2011. He added that Charger also has the best seed yield of any variety on the Recommended List at 106 per cent, 3 per cent above its nearest rival, while farmers growing the variety had reported good autumn vigour. Also at the event was Cambridgeshire farmer Sam Morris (left) of EJ Morris & Son, Top Farm, Croydon, one of United Oilseeds Beacon growers selected to grow new varieties to judge performance across the country. Sam drilled 20ha (50 acres) of Charger late last August alongside established variety DK Cabernet. We drill our heavy land very early and although Charger was the later of the two varieties to go in, its vigour was obvious to see. Cabernet was hit hard by pigeons and this year crops also suffered from flea beetle, but there havent been any bare patches in Charger.
Sam said that going for all out yield was the main reason for growing Charger with ease of combining an additional benefit. Its got to have a robust fungicide regime but we would do the same for any variety that we grow. What you get in the barn at the end is key, he added. Market share Selling the variety exclusively, farmer-owned oilseeds marketing and seed company United Oilseeds said that it is targeting 810 per cent of the UK oilseed rape market share with Charger. Managing director Chris Baldwin said that the company had a close relationship with breeder KWS and that it had been looking closely at Charger in trials since 2012. He pointed out that the business currently enjoyed a 30 per cent share of the UK OSR seed market and, in terms of Charger, there would be sufficient seed available for drilling this autumn available to all farmers, and not just United Oilseeds members. Mr Baldwin also highlighted the business Carte Blanche oilseed rape crop marketing pool performance over the seven months leading up to the beginning of March 2014 where its price has been consistently higher than the daily market ex-farm price. Understanding market volatility and knowing when to choose the optimum moment to trade is the key to generating a good return for our growers, he said.