Yields of high oleic, low linolenic OSR varieties have caught up with conventional types
Yields of HOLL (high oleic, low linolenic) OSR varieties have caught up with conventional types and they also come with a useful premium. Dominic Kilburn reports. Premiums of up to 35/t over conventional oilseed rape crops can be achieved by growing speciality HOLL (high oleic, low linolenic) varieties, growers are being advised. In addition, the yield lag associated with them, when compared with other hybrid or conventional oilseed rape varieties currently on the Recommended List, has all but disappeared. Thats according to breeder Monsanto which initially introduced HOLL OSR varieties to the UK nearly a decade ago for growers to supply niche healthy oil markets at a premium, but which came at a significant yield disadvantage to conventional 00 types. However its latest offering under its Vistive brand; V316OL, an RL Candidate for 2014/15, sets a new yield standard, says the company. Speaking at an event hosted by Monsanto in Cambridge, and attended by several seed distributors and crushing company Cargill, Monsanto breeder Matthew Clarke (left) said that the company had made big advances in HOLL plant breeding since its original variety Splendor had been launched. The advent of hybrids has ensured a step change in their development in recent years, removing the yield lag and lack of autumn vigour that we saw previously. V316OL is a leading RL Candidate in both UK regions and its yield is comparable with the best conventional hybrids while its agronomics, including disease resistance, are better than most other new RL Candidates, commented Matthew. The HOLL quality is well within crushers specifications, he added. Monsanto European Vistive lead, Geoff Hall, said that the companys vision for the future was that the HOLL profile will become the industry standard as the move into food oils continued and particularly as high profile names such as PepsiCo, McDonalds and KFC, as well as crushers Cargill and ADM became more involved. HOLL varieties can offer farmers a significant premium, currently up to 35/t, and this is a very valuable figure especially with OSR prices not quite as high as they were, Geoff pointed out. With really high rape prices farmers may have ignored the opportunity to switch to HOLL varieties but they should look again at the significant premiums on offer. Yield potential is now at the highest level with no yield lag, he suggested. Geoff added that oil specification was key if growers were to achieve the maximum premium from their HOLL crops and that the rapid crop analytic service available gave farmers peace of mind and also helped with on-farm storage and logistics. He said that as well as providing a premium for farmers, the healthy option of HOLL oil reduced fat levels and no trans fats in fried foods compared with palm or soybean oils was attractive to end-users which included some of the worlds largest food producing companies; providing them with locally sourced (NW Europe) options aside from other premium frying oils like sunflower, while delivering proven taste and fry performance. Useful premiums According to Openfields David Leaper, when HOLL varieties first became available it was more important for growers to reach the required specification so that the premium made up for the yield lag. Now, with yields comparable with 00 varieties, the premium is very useful for additional profit, he said. We actively encourage farmers to come over to HOLL varieties there are some good ones available, as well as good markets and premiums. David said that growers looking at these varieties for the first time need to consider the necessity of storage segregation, but suggested that farmers might like to try a variety for a season to get confidence in growing it, and because of the comparable yield the harvested crop could be added to the 00 heap. Then they could look to getting a contract and planting a bigger acreage the following season. Geoff Hall commented that there was sufficient seed available ahead of this autumn to fulfil current contracts, but seed availability would determine new contracts being made available. Seed production is the only real limiting factor and we are looking to increase it but we are also very aware that there has to be a market.
To continue to attract the big food producers, its likely that the 35/t premium will come down a little, which no one likes to see, but a 2535/t premium is still fantastic, he stressed. We feel very strongly about these products; there is a significant programme for HOLL growth in the UK, Nordics, Germany and France, and interesting export markets becoming available. We feel were at a turning point with these varieties, he added.
Grower viewpoint Lincolnshire and former Cereals event host farmer Andrew Ward currently has 132ha (326 acres) of HOLL varieties in the ground including V316OL. Hes been growing this type of variety for the past six seasons, starting with early HOLL variety Splendor. Initially we kept rape and beet apart in the rotation as volunteer rape was becoming resistant to sugar beet herbicides, but when Debut (triflusulfuron) came along and cleared them up there was natural progression to growing OSR on virgin beet land, said Andrew. Although the beet land is relatively light, we dont skimp on inputs and HOLL yields have reached 5.1t/ha hardly any different to rape grown on conventional OSR land. Weve also been growing HOLL rape on normal OSR land with a three year gap in the rotation and there has been no contamination from the old crop, he added. HOLL yields averaged 4.3t/ha in 2011 (1t/ha above the national average for that year); 4.5t/ha in 2012 and 4.3t/ha in 2013. Yields have been consistently over 4t/ha but there is the potential to get over 5t/ha in every field and with premiums up to 35/t, growing HOLL varieties is a no-brainer for me, said Andrew. HOLL buy-back contracts Essex-based Harlow Agricultural Merchants (HAM), says that the HOLL buy-back contract it offers farmers is unique as the entire crop is exported to be crushed on the Continent, rather than here in the UK, and this brings flexibility advantages for growers. Grain director for the business, Stuart Attridge points out that HAM is one of the largest participants in placing HOLL oilseed rape in the UK a market that is growing, albeit slowly. The area we contract to HOLL varieties is expanding at about 1,000ha (2,470 acres) each year and we find that the vast majority of growers who start out down the HOLL route will stick with it from there on. Crop is exported from ports on the east and south coasts including Kings Lynn, Ipswich, Tilbury and Southampton, and shipped direct to crushers in mainland Europe. We ship from harvest to the end of February, every two to three weeks. Growers grow it as they would any other OSR crop and then market it whenever they want there are no restrictions for them and thats the whole concept of the contract, explains Stuart, who points out that, 5060 per cent of growers sell at harvest, similar to those growing conventional OSR varieties. We get amazing support from the crushers in Europe, as well as from Monsanto, and it all helps us to work for the same goal; ensuring there is enough margin for all those involved, he says. HAM is actively seeking growers to fulfil HOLL buy-back contracts for this autumns planting; the closer proximity they are to the ports the better in terms of transport cost, but its not essential, says the company. Premiums paid over the 00 OSR price have been between 3040/t. HOLL OSR FACTS – HOLL stands for high oleic, low linolenic – HOLL oil is an attractive alternative for major food processors as it provides a more stable frying oil in addition to offering health benefits to consumers compared with some other oils – Growers need a contract before growing HOLL varieties but premiums of up to approx. 35/t have been available HOLL varieties now have yields comparable with conventional 00 types – About 100,000ha (247,000 acres) of HOLL varieties are grown in Europe – 23 per cent of the UK winter OSR crop is planted with HOLL varieties