Monday, July 15, 2019

Consistency is key during challenging time for rape

July 2, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Growers are being urged to choose rape varieties with consistent performance as cabbage stem flea beetle continues to mount pressure on the crop.

Flea beetle damage has put the spotlight on the viability of oilseed rape crop in a way not seen for many years, says LSPB breeder Craig Padley. Drillings were down about 10% last autumn with some estimates suggesting that 5-10% of the crop was subsequently ploughed in.

Many growers may be tempted to go for the newest varieties with the highest trial yield this year. Mr Padley says this makes sense for part of the crop area. But he adds: “The key message is to look for proven on-farm consistency in your variety choice.”

A complementary approach is to choose varieties that have a proven track record of consistent yields in official trials and on-farm. And there are a select few that meet this criterion in a crop where we see a high turnover of varieties come and go in popularity each season.

Much-needed consistency is offered by the variety Wembley, says Mr Padley. Now in its fourth year on the recommended list, it is just 2% behind the best in the east-west region. Trials across the main rape growing areas suggest it will keep that track record intact, Mr Padley says.

Wembley has a 104% untreated UK gross output and 104% untreated seed yield, making it top of the varieties tested on the 2019-20 AHDB Recommended List. Its gross output UK untreated is 3% higher than the next variety and its seed yield UK is 2% higher than the next.

It is worth noting that Wembley’s good early spring vigour and early flowering can help reduce the impact of flea beetle larvae damage, says Mr Padley.  A restored hybrid with high resistance to lodging combined with good stem stiffness, it also has high light leaf spot resistance.

Improved varieties are also being evaluated – including varieties resistant to clubroot, adds Mr Padley. But Wembley’s consistently high gross output will keep it in the premier league as fully recommended for the time being.

“Once we can see a proven advantage in our own and official trials, they will be introduced. But for now we see Wembley as a strong, low risk contender in the crowded and volatile choice of varieties available to growers.”

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