Use OSR genetics to reduce risk and protect yield

LG Seeds - 15th May 2017

Choosing varieties with the genetic traits or agronomic characteristics suitable for your farm can reduce risk, protect yields and give more consistent results, is the message from leading plant breeders Limagrain UK.

Making OSR variety choices based on the conditions in which they are to be grown is fundamental to a profitable crop, and this comes down to understanding how the genetics or traits within that variety help to protect the top-line yield from the host of environmental and crop management factors that are known to depress yield, says Dr Vasilis Gegas, Limagrain’s senior oilseed rape breeder.

“When choosing to grow a new variety, seed yield and gross output based on AHDB Recommended List figures are often the hook, however these figures are hard to replicate on farm and this is down to the erosion of this top-line yield once a variety is in a field situation.”

A combination of factors, such as disease pressure, environmental conditions, agronomic practices and crop management broadens the gap between the genetic yield potential of a variety and the realised performance on farm,” he says.

“The reality is that we don’t know what the next season is going to throw at us there are so many unknowns in this game, from grain prices, weather patterns, disease pressure and even the impact of Brexit, so start by minimising risk wherever possible by choosing the right variety and making the most of the agronomic characteristics on offer.”

Our approach at Limagrain is to maximise yield potential while ensuring yield stability. In order for a variety to reach its full yield potential, it’s critical to protect against any factors that could suppress this yield. We have worked on reducing yield instability and protecting yield potential, by building traits into our varieties that help to mitigate the impact of environmental and other stresses.

Limagrain’s dedicated UK OSR breeding programme based in Rothwell, Lincs is unique in that it focusses specifically on challenges that UK OSR growers face. “Loss of chemistry to control aphids and associated yield losses, the spread of club root and light leaf spot into non-traditional regions, and of course difficulties with establishment, are all issues that can be tackled through the right genetics.”

“We look at how best we can combine a range of traits so that we are able to offer varieties that suit particular situations. For example, growers in the north are looking for OSR crops that will establish quickly so need to demonstrate early vigour, winter hardiness, early maturity and have robust disease resistance against Light Leaf Spot.”

However these genetics need to be rigorously tested in the conditions to which they will be launched, to know if they will perform consistently, points out Dr Gegas. “We are able to test all our varieties for a number of years under UK conditions, which means that we are confident that we are bringing the most appropriate and consistent varieties to market.”

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