Cost-effective Keeper

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Two independent seed specialists have selected the conventional oilseed rape variety Keeper, bred specifically for the UK by independent breeder Mike Pickford. Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed, says Keeper is an agronomically strong variety with high yields combined with excellent disease ratings which will make it a firm favourite on farm. “Big bold seed is a selection criteria Mike Pickford uses and it pays dividends when the crop gets out into the field. Strong early vigour enables the crop to get up and away quickly, reducing slug and cabbage stem flea beetle damage. Keeper is a shorter variety with good stem stiffness and lodging scores,“ Neil says.

Will Miller of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire based Williams Seeds says Keeper may appeal to farmers questioning whether to continue growing Oilseed Rape. “Drilling 100 seeds / metre ² of a large seeded, vigorous variety for less than £19/acre gives the best chance of establishment whilst minimising upfront costs. If it works, you can continue on to a potential  £300 + / acre gross margin and a proper first wheat entry. If the CSFB pressure is too great, you can rip it up and put in a different crop and your losses are under £19 / acre, the cultivation to establish the OSR is not wasted as it will contribute towards the seedbed for the new crop.” says Will.

Will is expecting growers to prioritise wheat in their rotation this autumn but it is important that a profitable break crop is sustained and he believes Keeper is the right variety to achieve this. “This variety’s excellent autumn vigour has been proven in trials and on farm. Large seed size delivers more energy for germination and initial growth and then high genetic vigour takes over to produce maximum biomass as quickly as possible. 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. Its short plant height and strong standing power means more even maturity, quicker harvest and less header losses,” Will says. “We already have interest in this variety from our customers.”

Another independent seed specialist, Andrew Bourne from T Denne & Sons in Ashford, Kent, finds Keeper an appealing rape variety also. “I agree with Will that growers will probably have a knee jerk reaction to maximising the area of first wheat drilled this autumn, after last years’ difficulties drilling cereals. This may mean a reduction in the area of rape sown this year but growers should be ready to seize an opportunity to drill rape if they see an opportunity in early August. In Kent I would think that we are mirroring the national picture for rape. Four or five years ago the rape crop was unscathed by CSFB but now we have this problem across the county. But an economic break crop needs to be integrated into the rotation. When choosing your rape variety, growers must know and keep their costs of establishment under control. The reaction to last year’s rape crop will mean that growers will be looking for varieties that are low cost, conventional and vigorous. “

“I too am a big fan of the breeder Mike Pickford. I value that the variety is selected specifically for the UK. The seed is realistically priced and his varieties are decent, conventional varieties with many good characteristics for the farmer. For example Keeper has two good disease resistant scores, it is relatively early to mature so harvest doesn’t clash with wheat harvest, it has strong stem stiffness and strength. All round I would say Keeper has as good a set of data behind it as any other rape variety. In my opinion it was unlucky not to get selected for the AHDB listing. All these attributes of Keeper are valuable to the grower,” says Andrew.


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


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