Monday, May 27, 2019

How oilseed rape growers can lower seed cost if crop fails

March 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Oilseed rape growers who are forced to rip up failed crops could significantly reduce their losses thanks to a new scheme launched by RAGT Seeds.

Under the arrangement, growers will only have to pay royalties on the area of oilseed rape that establishes successfully. The initiative could reduce up-front seed costs by about 30%, claims the Essex-based plant breeder.

“Many growers have been questioning the viability of growing oilseed rape due to the increased risk of establishing a crop following the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments and greatly increased flea beetle pressure,” says Tom Dummett, RAGT’s cereals and oilseed rape product manager.

Risk mitigation

“In recognition of this, RAGT Seeds has decided to try to mitigate some of the grower risk associated with establishing an oilseed rape crop. Working with specific varieties, growers will only be required to pay royalty later in the season based on hectares of established crop.”

The agreement between RAGT and the Breeders’ Intellectual Property Office (BIPO) will see the company’s new oilseed rape genetic material entered through the well-established Royalty Area Collection scheme.

Three new OSR varieties will be eligible for the scheme: RGT Azzurite, RGT Nizza CL and RGT Belizze CL. They are RAGT’s most recent varieties, selected for this system for their vigour, to try to give growers the best chance of establishing a rape crop, says Mr Dummett.

‘Welcome savings’

“Growers simply declare the area of oilseed rape established by 1 November, on which they will pay royalty. Failed areas will be exempt, resulting in welcome savings that farmers can put towards re-establishing a replacement crop.”

Under the scheme, the grower will pay £160 for a 3ha pack of RGT Azzurite followed by a royalty payment of £24 for every hectare established. The Clearfield varieties will cost about £175/pack, and royalty payments are set at £30/ha.

Gleadell seed manager Chris Guest says the combination of good vigour and reduced up-front seed costs could be a useful risk management option for growers – especially in eastern region areas prone to flea beetle attack.

‘Innovative idea’

“Some growers have switched to Clearfield varieties as a risk management strategy as they don’t have to commit to pre-emergence herbicides – they can delay weed control until the crop has established,” says Mr Guest.

“A similar arrangement for royalty payments will further reduce Clearfield growers’ up-front financial risk.”

Beckii Gibbs, seed manager at United Oilseeds, says: “As we know, establishment is key for oilseed rape. United Oilseeds is a farmer cooperative and, like RAGT, is always looking for ways to help our farmer customers.

“This is an innovative idea that is sure to be welcomed by OSR growers. Cash flow is always a top concern at harvest and a lower up-front seed cost is certain to help and prove popular.”

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