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Low biomass, low maintenance and low cost of production per tonne


A leading agronomist is convinced that too much emphasis is being placed on gross margins and not enough on cost of production per tonne. By shifting the emphasis to cost of production per tonne, you can really appreciate the time and the money needed to create yield and can see the hidden costs and where savings can be made, says Countrywide Farmer agronomist Simon Trenary.

Simon Trenary reports that when it comes to growing oilseed rape, he has seen the positive economic impact of choosing a variety which is easy to manage, which has good all-round disease resistance and with good vigour. It is a combination of these factors that I am looking for. Ultimately we want a hassle-free variety that performs and is easy to manage. For example the low biomass variety Es Alienor is short and my farmers have said it is a dream to combine. Its ease of combining means cost savings for my farmers.

Es Alienor also has an amazing vigour and an exceptional ability to get up and grow away. In fact on one of my farms we are planting it in a block well away from the farm as we know it will take off and can fend for itself! You dont need to be going out and monitoring for its establishment or indeed slugs or pigeons all the time more hidden costs. This year when some rape will inevitably be late drilled, a vigorous variety such as Alienor will be needed.

Simon has also seen that Alienor can more than hold its own when it comes to slugs and pigeons. Maybe because it is so vigorous and creates a strong crop canopy or maybe for other reasons to do with palatability, it appears to be less attractive to these pests than other varieties. It is these hidden costs of regular field monitoring and less time maintaining pigeon scarers and applying slug pellets that all add up.

He also appreciates that Alienor has very good combined disease resistance to Phoma and Light Leaf Spot. In my area Phoma is the main problem disease in rape but Light Leaf Spot has become more widespread recently. Alienor tends to have the ability to look after itself when it comes to disease.

I have also been pleased with its yield, reaching 4.37 t/ha (1.75 t/acre) this year, which was as good as anything else we grew. It wasnt our top yielding variety, (although it did well in NIAB TAG trials) but it was one of the lowest cost of production per tonne crops, making it the most profitable variety. What my farmers like is that it is a low maintenance variety that performs, says Simon.

Neil Groom of Grainseeds appreciates that farmers want oilseed rape varieties with a package of strong agronomic features that make the management of the crop easier and more cost-effective. Es Alienor is a variety that will satisfy these requirements and, as Simon says, is a low maintenance, hassle-free variety to grow.

One feature that will be needed this year, particularly in the late drilling slot, is vigour, which Alienor shows in spades. It shows excellent vigour in the autumn and spring, well ahead of many hybrids and all other conventionals. Another important management benefit is its early maturity. This means that it fits well into any normal crop rotations, spreading the workload at harvest, an advantage to farmers with a lot of acres to combine, he says.

With the spread of Light Leaf Spot southwards and the spread of Phoma northwards, growers need varieties with high combined disease resistance to help with management and fungicide flexibility. Alienor has the highest combined disease resistance ratings of any conventional variety, with a 7.8 for Phoma and a 7.5 for Light leaf Spot, making it suitable to grow in all parts of the UK. The basis of Alienors Phoma resistance is multigenic and so is long lasting, reports Neil.

Neil Groom concludes that Alienor has a unique combination of yield and agronomic characteristics that make it well worth considering for planting anywhere in the UK. Its overall package allows easier management and less costly inputs without compromising on yield.

For further comment and information on the oilseed rape variety Es Alienor or other Grainseed varieties such as Es Astrid or Es Cubic, please contact Neil Groom, Technical Manager Grainseed Ltd on 01379 871073 or 07774 720240.

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