Philip Simons, of Prime Agriculture, based in Norfolk, has understood the benefits of hybrids for a number of years now ‘it’s not that they necessarily deliver the best yields every year,’ said Philip, ‘but they do provide a level of insurance in a difficult year – that insurance being in the form of a more reliable yield performance’. 
‘I am impressed by the robustness of hybrid performance when conditions aren’t ideal. I just think that a hybrid can help pull up those lower performing parts of the field. I’ve noticed that those farmers who make the transition to hybrids tend to stick with them, at least on a part of their acreage' he continued.
‘Seed is expensive when buying a hybrid, but when the lower seed rate is factored in – hybrids require an optimum population of 30 plants/m2 in the spring rather than the 50 plants required by a conventional variety - this isn’t always the case’ Mr Simons added.
Philip provides the agronomy advice to Ed Wharton of Winsford Hall Farm, near Great Yarmouth. For the last two years, Ed has been very happy with the hybrid variety Flash he has grown on both the advice of Mr Simons, and James Hood, from United Oilseeds. In 2009, Flash broke the farm record, with an average of well over 2 t/acre, and yet again in 2010 Flash has performed magnificently, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
Mr Wharton said ‘in common with everyone we had a very hard winter but just to be a bit different our Flash got hammered by geese – normally pigeons are the main problem – but the crop responded fantastically in the spring and really back from the dead. The oil content was excellent as well, which with the current high values adds a lot of extra margin’.
Philip Simons continued ‘I have been studying oil content for a number of years now – it is far more reliable than just seed yield, and at 1.5% of the contract price per percent, it can add a lot of extra income for the right variety. This year I do like the ideas of Compass – a very high oil content hybrid, which has the added bonus of establishing extremely quickly in the autumn