Date: 05/2022

With many industry commentators predicting a significant increase in oilseed rape area being drilled this autumn, growers need to make their buying decisions early, says DSV’s Sarah Hawthorne.

It’s not inconceivable that the UK oilseed rape area grown for harvest 2023 could reach 450,000ha – a near 30% increase over this year.

Fuelled by rapidly rising prices for the crop, concerns over availability of all foodstuffs, including sunflower oil from the Ukraine, and rising levels of confidence in managing the crop post-neonicotinoids, oilseed rape is undergoing a significant resurgence.

Whilst this is a rare snippet of good news for UK growers against a backdrop of rapidly increasing input prices and devastating news from other parts of the world, it does mean some important decisions around oilseed rape need to be made now.

In particular, producers wanting to get the most from their crops next year need to focus on the key attributes needed for this and order their seed early enough to secure varieties with these.

Most modern hybrids yield well in an average year, so if high yield potential is a given, what are the key varietal traits needed to deliver the best performance in the current conditions?

The three critical areas from our viewpoint are rapid establishment, high Nitrogen efficiency and solid agronomics.

Rapid establishment

The post-neonicotinoid era has reinforced the importance of high vigour in oilseed rape. Always a desirable attribute, it is now an absolutely critical one to ensure crops get away quickly and consistently.

Rapidly establishing plants are better able to grow through pest problems, be they from flea beetles or pigeons, and also lay down the all important roots that will help them cope with future stresses.

DSV varieties, historically, have been high vigour choices and our current portfolio features some of Europe’s best establishing varieties. DSV Duplo, for example, was specifically fast-tracked into the UK market because of its exceptional vigour in a range of conditions.

Nitrogen Efficiency

With Nitrogen prices increasing rapidly in recent months and ongoing pressure to use this vital nutrient as carefully as possible in the future, efficiency of N utilisation is of increasing importance.

Modern oilseed rape varieties are nearly 30% more Nitrogen efficient than the highest yielders from just a few years ago. DSV trials show a number of factors contributing to this.

In fact it’s a plant’s overall yield potential, resilience and the strength of its physical characteristics that make it able to use N more efficiently rather than it be any one specific feature of a variety. Deep roots and strong architecture are essential.

Again, DSV Duplo has fared very well in trials with high levels of N-efficiency in evidence to ensure every kg N applied works as hard as possible to produce yield with minimum waste.

Solid agronomics

TuYV resistance has also been linked to high levels of N-efficiency in oilseed rape, but it’s also a key requirement for any modern production system.

Numbers of virus-carrying aphids have grown considerably in recent years as use of appropriate insecticides to control them has fallen.

With significant yield losses resulting from TuYV infection, the best way to avoid these is to select varieties with high levels of built-in resistance to the condition.

A triple-layered variety like DSV Duplo also has RLM7+ phoma stem canker resistance combined with pod shatter resistance in addition to TuYV resistance.

With the diminishing amount of chemistry available to growers now and in the future, such a level of disease protection is an essential foundation for growing a successful oilseed rape crop.

The bottom line is, however, that with the area of oilseed rape drilled this year likely to be almost a third more than last year, varieties combining these essential properties will be the first ones to go.

So, if you want to arm yourself with the best options for harvest 2023, order now!