Despite the series of challenges winter oilseed rape has faced across mainland Europe this season, most crops in our extensive Dekalb farm-scale trials programme are delivering very encouraging results as the harvest gathers pace.
Poor establishment in a very dry autumn in some areas was compounded by winter kill in low temperatures without snow. A generally chaotic spring with sharp frosts at flowering in many cases led to concerns over fertility and pod set. And the summer heatwave affecting most of the continent hasn’t helped either.
Overall, the harvest is running 1-2 weeks later than last year. However, the earliest crops on light and drought-prone land harvested in the past week have produced average to above average yields, substantially increasing our optimism for the main harvest.
Our large strip trials under farm management conditions in Western part of France have averaged a very encouraging 4.3 t/ha, with some locations topping 5t/ha. One grower has even beaten the local record in South West here with a 5.7 t/ha commercial crop of DK Exception.
In eastern Hungary and western Romania where crops suffered badly from both autumn drought and frost at flowering our early harvested strip trials are delivering above expectation in most cases too, averaging around 3.8t/ha. We’re seeing big variations depending on local conditions. But our best Hungarian performance so far has been a record of one grower with 6.2 t/ha from DK Expression.
Further south and east in Romania where conditions have been far more favourable, our crops are looking fantastic with large, well-filled pods. As harvesting begins, we’re certainly expecting averages of 5t/ha or more from DK Impression CL, DK Exprit, DK Expression and DK Exception.
Alongside DK Exlibris and DK Exception, DK Expansion is looking really strong in Germany and Poland, although again we’re sure to see big variations between different regions when combining begins, depending on the weather challenges they’ve had to face.
Crops are noticeably shorter and less well-structured in those areas experiencing a longer spring drought. Even so they seem set to deliver satisfactory averages
in most cases.
We’re much more optimistic about the northern and eastern German crops badly affected by frost at early flowering than we were back in May. As they’ve done across the continent, Dekalb varieties have really compensated well, profiting from much better side branching than many.
Summer temperatures of 35-40oC over an extended period means seed size is relatively small in most areas, as grain fill was brought to a premature halt. However, assisted by some reasonable rainfall at the end of flowering, this is being more than compensated for by the number and length of pods.
In central and eastern Europe where the disease is always a major concern, I’m pleased to say our varieties have been dealing with the sclerotinia challenge . Despite the generally-held view that there is no genetic component to managing the disease, they’ve been standing out for their green and healthy appearance
This season has also been reinforcing our confidence in the disease tolerating powers of varieties like DK Expansion selected for performance under high verticillium pressures as part of our focus on breeding for environmental resilience.
Speaking of which, the value of our pod shatter resistance has, once again, become crystal clear following recent storms in Romania, amongst other places. To see Dekalb shatter-resistant varieties standing out for their dark richness alongside the white shattered pods of other present varieties is to understand the true value of the trait.
Data shared in this document is based on internal trials. Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. The result hereby presented may not be an indicator of results you may obtain in the context of the trial, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Monsanto assumes no liability for any such information.