It’s been a bumper year for new varieties being added to the 2013/14 HGCA Recommended Lists of winter oilseed rape varieties
It’s been a bumper year for new varieties being added to the 2013/14 HGCA Recommended Lists of winter oilseed rape varieties but how many of them offer real advances over existing varieties for growers? Richard Fenwick looks at the new additions to see which ones offer true promise for the future.
The East/West region
Six new varieties have been added to the East/West region Recommended List, which covers Wales and the English regions south of Hadrian’s Wall. Two of these varieties are conventional types and the others are hybrids. In addition another hybrid has been added as a “described” variety in order to give agronomic information about it.None of the new varieties have managed to exceed the gross output of the hybrid variety PR46W21 (Pioneer) which remains top of the List with a relative figure of 106, and although Quartz (KWS) has given the lowest gross output of all the new varieties at 102, it is perhaps one of the more interesting of the newcomers.It has excellent resistance to stem canker, rated at 9, and should prove very useful in providing flexibility of autumn spray timings and where phoma is a real problem, such as in tight rotations. Quartz is a relatively short variety with good lodging resistance and is already being grown on farm.Rivalda (KWS) is the other new conventional variety on the List. It has a slightly higher gross output than Quartz at 103 and is also a relatively short type with good lodging resistance but it lacks the stem canker resistance of Quartz, with a rating of 5 and is later in maturity.Marathon (DSV) has given the highest gross output of the three new hybrids at 105 and is unusual for a high yielding hybrid in that it is a shorter type which gives it good lodging resistance. Its weakness is stem canker with a low rating of 3 so this will have to be taken into account in planning spray timings and rotations.PT211 (Pioneer) is a typical hybrid type, rather tall but with good lodging resistance, latish maturity, average stem canker resistance and a gross output of 104; in other words nothing really wrong but nothing outstanding.Avatar (LSPB) with a gross output of 104 has a similar set of characteristics to PT211 with slightly earlier maturity but slightly worse stem canker resistance. Avatar had a poor year in 2012 so it may be worth watching in 2013 to see if it can get back onto its higher yielding track.The company’s new hybrid semi-dwarf oilseed rape variety Troy is the highest yielding semi-dwarf variety ever tested by the HGCA, says DSV UK managing director Mike Mann.Troy (LSPB) is a semi-dwarf hybrid and is certainly another of the more interesting new additions to the List. Semi-dwarfs have been available for several years now but have failed to make any real inroads in widespread popularity, possibly because their gross outputs have always lagged behind the most widely grown varieties of the time.Now however, with a gross output of 102, Troy is similar to the output of DK Cabernet and two per cent higher than that of Excalibur, two of the most popular varieties currently grown. With its acceptable output combined with its short height and excellent lodging resistance, Troy will surely attract some attention for the coming season.DK Imagine CL (DeKalb) is the first Clearfield variety on the List but is ‘described’ rather than Recommended because it is a specialist variety with a gross output of only 97. It has genetic tolerance (non-GM) to the imidazoline herbicides such as Clearanda which are useful in controlling weeds such as Charlock and Runch, which can be particular problems in oilseed rape.Care will have to be taken if using this variety in rotations with potatoes or sugar beet, as volunteers of it will be more difficult to control as the sulfonyl herbicides used on these crops will not control it.
The North region
Nine new varieties have been added to the Recommended List of winter oilseed rape for the North, which comprises the northern counties of England and the whole of Scotland.
Trials information in this region has been lacking in recent years due to several trial failures but now the situation has caught up with itself and hence the glut of new varieties. They all offer higher gross outputs than most of the existing varieties on the List with the exception of the popular hybrid variety Compass which continues its dominance with a gross output of 105.
Only three of the new varieties are of a similar gross output to Compass, namely the conventional variety Anastasia (Limagrain) at 106, the semi-dwarf Troy (LSPB) at 105 and the hybrid PT208 (Pioneer) also at 105.Boheme (Syngenta) and Pendulum (Limagrain) are conventional types while Raptor (DSV), Shot (DSV), PT211 (Pioneer) and DK Expower (DeKalb) are all hybrids; all have given gross outputs of 104.Time will tell which of these nine new varieties become successful commercially because while they all offer acceptable gross margins, none of them have particularly good resistance to light leaf spot which is an important requisite for a northern variety.Boheme, rated 7 for light leaf spot, has the best resistance of the new varieties; all the others are rated at 6. Anastasia should attract some interest if it maintains its high gross output potential while the semi-dwarf Troy with its short manageable height and very good lodging resistance may well prove useful in exposed situations. Quartz has excellent resistance to stem canker, rated at 9, and should prove very useful in providing flexibility of autumn spray timings and where phoma is a real problem.
Removals from the List
Palace, Expert, Lioness, ES Astrid, Hammer, PR45DO3, Castille and Mendel were removed from the East/West List whilst Lioness, Mendel and Palace were removed from the Northern List.
Hybrid OSR plantings now exceed pure lines
The area of oilseed rape planted to hybrid varieties in the UK has overtaken that in ‘conventional’ pure lines this season; reveal the latest annual industry planting estimates from Agrii.The detailed estimates gathered by the company from across the industry in the same way for the past 15 years show hybrids increasing their share of certified seed sales to a record 65 per cent. Even after accounting for home-saving, this means hybrids are now calculated to comprise over half the crop area for the first time ever.”The popularity of hybrid varieties has grown noticeably in recent years,” explains Agrii arable seed manager, Barry Barker. “The more rapid progress top breeders have clearly been able to make in developing robust, high performing varieties through hybridisation appears to be overcoming UK grower’s traditional preference for pure lines. This is bringing us increasingly into line with the rest of northern Europe where hybrids have long been preferred.”If anything, more vigorous faster-developing hybrids under-performed last year due to very strong autumn growth, the non-existent winter and exceptionally unstable spring and summer ground conditions.
“Thankfully, though, most growers weren’t put off by this. Which is just as well since the early ‘get-up-and-go’ the best modern hybrids have has been an essential requirement this season with the delaye drilling and other major establishment challenges many have been facing.”