Keeper oilseed rape variety keeps costs low

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Conventional varieties of oilseed rape such as Keeper from Grainseed, are a trusty variety for focusing on crop establishment and low pricing.

Following a significant downturn in rape in past years, a renewed confidence in this break crop and an upturn in the area planted is occuring.

Lee Harker, seed manager for ProCam, thinks that we may see a renaissance in the oilseed rape area in the next few years.  He said: “There are some good-looking crops this year, especially in the north and Scotland, where the crop is looking the best seen for some time, and the high current price of over £400/tonne, will make it an extremely profitable break. With bonuses, pricing could get close to £500/t. Globally there is also a shortage of oil so demand will be there, too.

Lee Harker

If you look at 3 to 5 years rotation, you will see the importance of rape on the farm. It provides the best entry for wheat compared with spring barley for example. Cabbage Stem Flea beetle is not as bad as it was last year in general, but we must accept that there is no silver bullet for this pest. You need to get the right conditions for drilling, so the crop has a chance to get away quickly. What other break provides a good wheat entry and such a profit opportunity?”

Mr Harker advises growers to focus on establishment above all and be guided more by conditions rather than absolute sowing date. “Moisture in the seedbed to get the crop going as quickly as possible is imperative.  Growing conventional varieties such as Keeper from Grainseed means you can reduce seed expenditure compared with the hybrid varieties.

This year’s rape crop was generally sown in good conditions and established well, particularly compared to last year. With its large seed, Keeper has an amazing ability to grow away with vigour and it can compensate and branch out strongly, despite being a conventional variety. In Germany the market is 95% hybrids but, in the UK, we do not have the extreme winters that they have. Keeper seed is also sold at a competitive price and is bred specifically for the UK market.”

Will Miller of East Midlands seed merchant, Williams Seeds, added that Keeper is a technically strong yet competitively priced conventional, offering a unique opportunity to keep initial costs to a minimum without compromising seed quality or variety performance. “With Keeper you can drill 100 seeds / metre ² of large seeded, vigorous, pure ‘00’ OSR for less than £19/acre. If it establishes well, as it did this year, you can continue on for to a potential £400 + / acre gross margin plus a proper first wheat entry.

Will Miller

If Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle do get the better of the crop, then the cultivation to establish the OSR is not wasted as it will contribute towards the seedbed for the new crop. The only cheaper option is Farm Saved Seed which comes with a real risk of pushing the Erucic acid level of the harvested grain above the new 2% legal limit,” says Will.

Will said that growers will inevitably prioritise wheat in their rotation this autumn, but they will need to revert back to a profitable break crop at some point, and he believes Keeper is a good variety to achieve this.

“This variety’s excellent autumn vigour for a conventional has been proven in trials and on farm. Its large seed size delivers more energy for germination and initial growth and then high genetic vigour takes over to quickly produce robust plants. Keeper has a good yield potential, comparable with widely grown variety, Campus. Its disease resistance profile is one of the best of any conventional variety, with a 7 for Phoma stem canker and a 6 for Light Leaf spot plus excellent Verticillium wilt tolerance. Lastly, its short plant height and strong standing power will hopefully allow for an even maturity and easy harvest.”

Nigel Scott of ProCam working in Durham says most of the Keeper in the ground now looks well. “Certainly, rape overall looks much better than last year when it had a poor start. “

“This year the crop got away quickly, avoiding pigeons and CSFB as there was good moisture available. I think Keeper is a good agronomic variety with a great disease resistance profile. It has good autumn vigour and wakes up well in the spring, too. The cost of the seed is nearly half of hybrid seed, so the risk/reward ratio of a failed crop is much more positive. You don’t have to spend as much upfront as with hybrids.”

“Oilseed rape is also showing a high gross margin on the farm this year and it provides a great entry for wheat.”

Mr Harker echoes these agronomists by endorsing their views of Keeper – “It is bred specifically for the UK, it has good yield potential and high oil content (45%), it stands well, is not too tall and has good disease resistance profile. With Keeper you have the best chance of getting it right. So why not try some this autumn?”

Keeper from Grainseed
Yield 102% Resistance to Phoma stem canker* 7.0
Oil content 45% Resistance to Light leaf spot* 6.0
Resistance to lodging* 8.0 Verticillium wilt tolerance Excellent
Stem stiffness* 7.3 Autumn vigour Excellent
Earliness of flowering* 4.3
*On scale of 1-9 where 9 is highest
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