Early OSR variety proves its worth

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Andy Stirrat of Fingask Farm, Rhynd near Perth has his crop of Archimedes oilseed rape off the field and in the shed, at least a week before any other oilseed rape crop in the area.

Sprayed off on the 5th July and then harvested 19 days later on the 25th July, the crop is also one of the highest yielding in the last 5-6 years at 4.8t/ha and under 10% moisture.

Nick Wallace of Nickerson, who supplied the seed, believes it was the only crop of OSR in the Perth area that he has seen in the shed.

Last year, Mr Stirrat lost a large amount of his rape crop just before harvest when strong winds swept through the farm, causing extensive pod shatter, reducing his yields down to 1t/ha, so this year wanted to grow a variety that offered not just pod shatter resistance, but also early maturity, and on the advice of Mr Wallace opted for the hybrid, Archimedes.

The Archimedes oilseed rape was drilled on the 10th August at 60 seeds/m². “The crop was up and away and established well as you would expect from a hybrid, and has been straightforward to manage and has looked good all season. Inputs were standard in the autumn and spring, and the crop received 200kgN/ha,” says Mr Stirrat.

Bred by Limagrain UK, Archimedes is a club root resistant variety that produces yields comparable with the control varieties PR46W21 and Mentor. Mr Stirrat acknowledges that club root was also an issue last year, with 15% loss to the disease even in a 5-6 year rotation.

“As Archimedes is resistant it ticked another box with no issues this year.”

Archimedes offers superior on farm agronomic features such as good lodging resistance and stem stiffness – both features that Mr Stirrat says held up well this season and made his crop of Archimedes easy to harvest, despite it being a slightly taller variety. Archimedes also has excellent disease resistance to light leaf spot and stem canker, which makes it a variety particularly suitable for growers in the north.

“The value of pod shatter resistance is a trait that is often under estimated and not really fully understood,” says Vasilis Gegas, senior oilseed rape breeder for Limagrain UK. “It results in seed loss and can be caused by wind and rain, or the combine passing through the crop.”

“It’s a valuable trait, not just in maintaining yields, but pod shatter resistance also gives growers flexibility during harvest by extending the period that the crop can hold on in the field. It is also a valuable tool for reducing the number of oilseed rape volunteers in the following crop.”

“It is possible to precisely quantify pod shatter resistance using lab based techniques, where the force required to shatter the pod is measured, and testing varieties in this way clearly shows that there are significant differences in the resistance between varieties that claim to carry POSH resistance”, says Dr Gegas.

“In the Limagrain OSR breeding programme, we have sophisticated breeding tools which allow us to introduce POSH resistance into our hybrid varieties, which are then extensively tested in this way, so we have the confidence that these varieties do indeed offer high levels of pod shatter resistance.”

Independent crop consultant Allen Scobie, based in central Scotland, believes the most important aspect of the oilseed rape harvest is maximizing recoverable yield, and pod shatter resistance goes a long way to achieving this by reducing the risk of damage from strong winds and cutter bar losses.“Scottish growers have dealt with some fairly mixed weather at the start of harvest over the last few years, and in 2016 areas of central Scotland experienced strong gale force winds within days of harvest. Some growers lost more than half of their crop due to pod shatter but hybrids with the pod shatter resistance gene experienced little or no damage.”

“This year, a series of low pressures have prevented many growers from starting to harvest oilseed rape, so many crops are still standing in the field, and we will have to see what plays out with these crops.”

“Applications of pod stickers to reduce shatter loss have become common practice for many growers but at the current commercial rates they cost more and do not prevent the damage caused by last year’s strong winds,” he points out. “Hybrids containing the pod shatter resistance gene can reduce the risk of losses from wind or delayed harvest and reduce the need for pod stickers.”



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