Harvest results from AHDB variety trials are perhaps the best indicator of performance growers have available to them to inform future variety choices. Results from harvest 2019 provide a comprehensive assessment of a variety’s yield potential across the regions.
From Suffolk in the east to Hereford in the west, Kent in the south and Northumberland in the north, the performance across England of 34 varieties, assessed under replicated conditions, is freely available to inform decision-making and assist growers wanting a variety that is suited to their location.
For those in East Anglia there is little to separate the best-performing varieties. With a least significant difference (LSD) ranging from 6.5% of controls for the trial at Cowlinge, Suffolk to 10.6% of controls for the trial at near-by Wickhambrook and 11.2% of controls for the trial at Tuttington, Norfolk, there are between five and nine varieties falling within the LSD depending on location.
At each site there is a different stand-out performer. Top of the pack at Cowlinge is Blazen, a conventional variety from KWS with good agronomic characteristics that is among the shortest of the candidate varieties to be considered for recommendation this autumn at 151cm. It is a Picto cross that demonstrates relatively late flowering and medium maturity.
A gross output of 115% of controls puts marginally ahead of its stablemate Ballad, another conventional from KWS that gained UK-wide recommendation in 2019. Some of the controls at Cowlinge delivered respectable performances, such as the best-of-the-lot, Campus which at 104% out-performed several of the candidate varieties hoping to gain recommendation when the 2020-21 lists are announced later this year. Both Blazen and Ballad comfortably out-performed the other controls – Elgar (103%), Nikita (101%), V 316 OL (98%) and Alizze (95%) – at this site.
Gross output performance at the Tuttington trial was dominated by restored hybrids with just two conventional types among the seven highest yielding varieties. However, the LSD of 11.2% for this trial means there is far less difference between these varieties than their gross output scores suggest. At 110% of controls the gross output of Blazen is not significantly different to that of DK Expansion which had a best-in-trial gross output of 119%.
Blazen’s performance at the Callow site in Herefordshire is equally respectable, demonstrating strong suitability to conditions in the West. A gross output of 108% of controls places it in joint third place based on a least significant difference for the trial of 6.4%. The data highlight that there is often more to variety selection than the headline figures suggest.
While its strong performance in 2019 serves to underline its yield potential, growers will also be intrigued to hear that it is only one of a few varieties available through a unique partnership arrangement that sees the growing risk shared between the breeder, seed merchant and grower.
The Oilseed Establishment Partnership (OEP) offers a practical solution to growers with concerns around the establishment of oilseed rape crops. The initial seed cost is lower for the grower, allowing better cashflow and the opportunity for flexible seed rates. If the crop fails to establish and needs to be replaced, then the grower doesn’t make the final payment for the seed.