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New oilseed rape genetics developed by plant breeder DSV are building on traditional pod shatter characteristics to increase harvest security in light of increasingly... How ‘powerful pods’ protect rape yields

New oilseed rape genetics developed by plant breeder DSV are building on traditional pod shatter characteristics to increase harvest security in light of increasingly variable growing conditions caused by unpredictable weather.

The company’s latest RL addition DSV Dolphin is the first new generation hybrid variety specifically developed to combine a key set of genetic traits to protect pods against adverse weather later in the season.

“Pod shatter genetics, contained in several DSV oilseed rape varieties and others on the RL, have done much to highlight the issue of harvest seed shed,” says DSV’s Sarah Hawthorne.

“It is, however, now widely understood that how a variety performs during its growth and at harvest is the function of many different characteristics rather than just a single gene or property of a variety.

“Other factors such as the plant’s overall strength and health, its disease resistance and growth habit together with the actual physical form of the pod are increasingly seen as fundamental to how it performs at harvest.”

With this in mind, DSV breeders have been working on three key pod characteristics around the concept of “powerful pods” which contribute significantly to reduced seed losses in adverse conditions, she explains.

“These are greater flexibility of the pod structure, improved function of the pod valve margins and greater space around individual seeds.


“Increased flexibility, for example, gives pods a resilient ‘rattle-proof’ structure which makes them less friable and more able to absorb energy rather than break open in conditions with extremely high winds or hailstorms.

“This enhanced flexibility also allows pods to cope better with the uneven tensions produced from drying after rainfall, which can lead to pods splitting.”

Varieties with powerful Pods also have a stronger valve margin – the mechanism at the base of the pod which effectively controls the opening of the valves, effectively the sides of the pod containing the seeds.

“This avoids early triggering of the opening process particularly when pods are stressed such as in adverse weather or when going through the combine header.

“More space in individual pods also allows seeds to develop fully as they mature so a variety can reach its full yield potential, but it also stops growth stressing the pod which can again lead to premature failure.”

Results from DSV’s own trials and an AHDB analysis of pod shatter results have underlined DSV Dolphin’s harvest performance, says Ms Hawthorne.

“In random impact tests carried out at the DSV breeding station at Thule in Germany where pods from different varieties are bombarded with steel ball bearings in controlled conditions, DSV Dolphin achieved one of the best seed retention scores.

“Results from an AHDB analysis in 2023 have shown little difference in the performance of DSV Dolphin with regard to seed loss compared to many of the most popular pod shatter varieties.”

Fully featured variety

Other factors working alongside DSV Dolphin’s powerful pods seed protection features are a fully featured set of agronomic properties, Ms Hawthorne points out.

DSV Dolphin is recommended for the East/West region on the current RL with a gross output of 106%, the joint highest on the list, and this supported by some stand-out features including a 46.6% oil content.

With TuYV resistance and scores of 7 for stem canker, 8 for lodging and a 9 for stem stiffness, DSV Dolphin is a simple to grow OSR well suited to the current economic and environmental climate. It also has a 7 for flowering and a 4 for maturity.

“It also has strong tolerance to verticillium wilt as well as having some of the best tolerance to sclerotinia in DSV’s portfolio, with early senescence from either condition known to cause excessive seed loss before or at harvest.”


“DSV Dolphin also offers growers a high level of protection from the growing threat of the TuYV virus now endemic across the UK where it has the potential to reduce yields by up to 20%.

“It is also one of only a few varieties to feature RLM7+ and multi-gene resistance to stem canker.”