In a decidedly mediocre year, DEKALB varieties are standing out for much appreciated consistency at Howdons Lodge, Old Weston near Huntingdon where Russell McKenzie typically grows 160 ha of winter OSR in a four year rotation with wheat and two spring crops on heavy, black-grass affected ground.
Overall, yields were well back on the 4.3-4.5t/ha he normally expects from his winter OSR. But without the best-performing of his main varieties – V316OL and DK Extrovert which delivered 3.70 t/ha and 3.65 t/ha respectively – he would be looking at a farm average of little more than 3 t/ha.
“The V316OL really surprised us,” he said. “It was the only variety we didn’t have neonic treated under last autumn’s derogation. Yet it was clearly our best yielder, doing a good 4 t/ha in all but the last very badly flea beetle-hit field.
“The strip trials we ran with DK Exentiel alongside a leading RL hybrid also showed us the value of pod shatter resistance. Although we avoided the worst of the pre-harvest storms, a large amount of volunteer growth was evident in the stubble of non DK-hybrid after harvest with no greening whatsoever in the Exentiel which went on to out-yield it by a good 0.6 t/ha.
“The DK Extrovert we grew in a similar trial alongside another breeder’s promising new hybrid also gave us a 0.3 t/ha advantage, again highlighting the importance of consistency in OSR varieties.
“Alongside pod shatter resistance, speed of autumn development and earliness of spring growth as well as high levels of disease resistance are especially important to us. In difficult years like this, it’s more important than ever we don’t have crops that let us down.”