Thursday, November 15, 2018

Remember end market when choosing varieties

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Farmers are being advised to base oilseed rape variety choices this autumn on the end market – and the challenges facing growers.

Mike Thornton, seeds and traits technical manager for agronomists ProCam, suggests an approach based on priority needs. “High yield is understandably near the top of many growers’ wish lists with varieties – but also make sure the variety meets other needs,” he says.

Clubroot-resistant variety are key in clubroot-infected soil. But growers should also consider the importance of meeting end market requirements, such as the issue of erucic acid levels, which is an increasing concern.

Currently, oilseed rape samples above 5% erucic acid cannot enter the food chain, says Mr Thornton. Anything between 2-5% erucic acid can receive significant price penalties. But new EU limits being proposed could reduce the maximum level allowed to just 2%.

“What’s worrying is that the number of UK oilseed rape crops found to have higher erucic acid levels has increased in recent years. There are a number of possible theories for the rise.

“These include contamination from seeds of cruciferous weeds or from oilseed rape volunteers containing higher erucic acid levels. One possible response, if you’re not on clubroot-infested soil, is to grow a Clearfield variety.”

The Clearfield system can achieve control of cruciferous weeds and non-Clearfield volunteers. It also allows flexible autumn herbicide timing to help ease workloads around oilseed rape drilling, and provides a solution where clods or surface trash hinder residual herbicide performance.

ProCam is also looking into the feasibility of sowing mustard seed in with Clearfield varieties, with the aim of diverting some of the cabbage stem flea beetles away from feeding on the oilseed rape plants to feeding on the mustard seedlings.

“The mustard would then be killed off when the Clearfield herbicide is applied,” says Mr Thornton.

“DK Impressario is a good example of a Clearfield oilseed rape variety that not only offers good yield potential, but also excellent vigour and disease resistance, plus pod shatter resistance and early maturity.”

As well as looking at end market needs, Mr Thornton urges growers to look at how variety choice can help respond to wider agronomy challenges – such as the need for vigorous-establishment to help mitigate against cabbage stem flea beetle pressure, as well as resistance to disease.

“From a disease viewpoint, although light leaf spot was traditionally a more northern problem, it can now have a significant effect on crops around the country. Therefore, consider robust light leaf spot resistance.”

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