While the loss of neonicotinoids rocked breeders and growers alike, confidence in oilseed rape is growing again with 2021 plantings more than likely to show definitive shoots of the crop’s recovery.
This is according to Sarah Hawthorne of DSV UK, who suggests growers have gone full circle in recent years, with many realising oilseed rape is still the best break crop for UK rotations.
Ms Hawthorne says: “There are definitely areas of the country where it will take a long time for confidence to return, but we’ve learned a lot in recent years and there are large areas where oilseed rape is doing really well now.”
“Varieties have definitely got stronger, which has helped, but there are exciting developments on the horizon which will make the crop a safer bet in the future.”
Far from being daunted by the downturn in crop volume in recent years, DSV’s breeding development has continued apace, with new varieties now available bearing many signature features that will define the company’s varieties in the future, she says.
“Much of the development of oilseed rape in recent years has been around giving the crop greater resilience in the face of the reduced agronomic options available, which is really what the focus of our post-neonicotinoid PNN initiative was about.”
“This led to the establishment of ‘layered’ trait sets combining disease resistance with strong physical properties, all designed to make crops stronger and more viable with fewer inputs and this has acted as a springboard for a whole new generation of varieties.”
DSV Matrix CL, which has just been included in the AHDB Candidate List 2021/22, is probably the best manifestation of this.
“As the first quad-layered PNN variety, it marks a huge step forward in breeding innovation, being the first variety to stack four complex traits together without compromising yield. Performance “A Clearfield winter oilseed rape variety, it allows the grower to choose powerful, post-emergence Clearfield chemistry without facing the potential drop in performance shown in the previous generations of varieties,” says Ms Hawthorne.
Matrix CL is the highest yielding Clearfield variety available to UK growers and it is one of only a few varieties selected as a candidate for the whole UK, making it suitable for growing in the North and the East/West regions, she adds.
“Matrix CL’s gross output in the East/West region is more than 108% of control with an impressive 46% oil content adding to its appeal. “It’s the first UK Clearfield variety to offer turnip yellow virus [TuYV] resistance with pod shatter resistance and RLM7+ resistance to stem canker, completing its complex four layer disease and yield protection features.”
“With high vigour from already successful Clearfield varieties such as Plurax CL, Matrix CL has performed particularly well in our high pressure flea beetle trials, plus it offers top standing scores with a 9 for lodging and an 8 for stem stiffness.”
Another new variety introducing significant genetic technology to the UK oilseed rape market is DSV Dart, says Ms Hawthorne.
Joining the AHDB Candidate List in December 2020, DSV Dart is a high yielder that has per formed well across UK trials, but with particularly impressive results in the East/West region with a gross output of 113% and an oil content of 45.7%.
“Like other layered varieties, Dart offers protection from the growing threat of TuYV as well as featuring RLM7+ multi-gene resistance to stem canker, strong verticillium wilt tolerance plus high resistance to light leaf spot with a score of 6.”
But what really sets Dart apart is that it is the first variety to carry HarvestMax yield protection technology, Ms Hawthorne adds.
“HarvestMax has been specifically developed to give a new level of defence against harvest challenges by combining DSV’s longest and largest pods bred to date with new pod features alongside a short and compact canopy structure.”
“Not only does this allow Dart to be quickly and efficiently combined with minimum seed loss, it also helps to ensure quick and even dry down of the plant. “Other grower-friendly features include a prostrate growth habit which results in rapid weed-inhibiting ground cover, meaning the variety is unlikely to need an autumn PGR.”
“Flexibility in view of more variable growing conditions is also a key Dart characteristic. Although ideally drilled in the optimum autumn window, the variety’s considerable vigour means it can safely be later drilled if weather conditions dictate this.”
The trio of new varieties is completed with DSV Duplo and although this is a triple-layered variety in the style of the varieties Darling and Dazzler, it adds the highest vigour yet to these traits, says Ms Hawthorne.
“DSV Duplo has again been added to the AHDB Candidate List for 2021, with an exception al oil content of 46.8% and a yield of 109% for the East/ West region.”
Combining RLM7+ multi-gene phoma stem canker resistance, TuYV resistance and pod shatter resistance, DSV Duplo is a strong, high yielding variety suitable for all areas of the UK.”
“It’s the perfect variety for modern production with real ‘get-up-and-go’ in autumn and spring for the strongest competition against weed and pest threats, allied to an unbeatable agronomic package and yield potential. “It’s proved itself to be a robust variety in all conditions across Europe and is a first choice for growers in less than ideal growing circumstances. As well as its high yield and oil content, DSV Duplo’s other standout figures include a 9 for stem canker resistance and 8s for lodging resistance and stem stiffness.”
Tillage trials DSV Duplo has also performed well in DSV’s new non-inversion tillage trials, Ms Hawthorne adds.
“These trials, which also include no-till, aim to identify varieties which produce strong establishment, exceptional performance and consistent gross output delivery in reduced cultivation systems and Duplo has more than proved itself in these.”
By introducing new traits and technologies and combining these into high performance hybrids, DSV is confident it can increase crop reliability and resilience without compromising yields, says Ms Hawthorne.
“There are other areas on the radar too. Modern oilseed rape varieties are nearly 30% more nitrogen efficient than the highest yielders from just a few years ago, for example, but this continues to be an area of interest for breeders.”
“With nitrogen utilisation increasingly in the spotlight, trials are showing a plant’s ability to make better use of nutrients cannot be tied to a specific gene but is instead dependent on a number of key features.”
“Well-developed roots are one of the most important of these with a deep taproot and long side branches essential in maximising nutrient uptake and this has always been a DSV strength going back to the highly popular variety Incentive and further.”
“We have a strong genetic legacy, so it’s likely our past will be a large part of our future too and this could well be the case when it comes to maximising nitrogen efficiency in the years ahead,” Ms Hawthorne adds.