Yorkshire growers take top honours in least-cost winter oilseed rape performance awards 19-Jul-2016

Two Yorkshire growers took top honours in the inaugural National OSR Performance Awards presented at Cereals 2016 recently (Wednesday June 15), both producing 5t/ha+ crops of winter oilseed rape for total production (input plus operational) costs of just over £130 per tonne of gross output.


Run by leading UK breeder, Monsanto to recognise Dekalb growers most successfully minimising per tonne production costs for the greatest financial resilience, the awards attracted entries from the south of Devon to the north of Yorkshire.


Richard Wainwright of Birch Farm, Oswaldkirk near Thirsk and Michael Denis of Elms Farm, Pickburn near Doncaster proved almost impossible to separate either for their 2015 crop performance or for the care and attention they put into their oilseed rape production.



On balance, however, the judges awarded the first prize of a state-of-the-art Trimble Nomad 1050 Hand held GPS system to Mr Wainwright for his larger crop area.


At 5.46 t/ha over the weighbridge and an average 44.7% oil, the 30 ha crop of DK Expower Richard Wainwright entered for the awards had a gross output of 5.63 t/ha – nearly half a tonne above the variety’s 2015/16 rating of 5.19 t/ha from Recommended List trials.


Input costs for the crop were £474/ha and operational costs £266/ha to give a total production cost of £136 per tonne of yield or £131 per tonne of gross output.


DK Expower has been the mainstay of the family partnership’s 60-80 ha/year oilseed rape crop for several years now, taking over from old-faithful, Excalibur. It has invariably yielded more than 5 t/ha in a four year rotation with winter wheat and barley, being replaced only this season with DK Extrovert following its excellent performance across an initial 8 ha last year. 

“Just like our wheats, we don’t change varieties nearly as often as many,” stressed Richard. “Consistency is our over-riding priority.  In the past we’ve had varieties that have been excellent one year then disastrous the next. We want something that can deal with the ups and downs; something that can grow away from problems; and, something that gives us valuable leeway in our spray timings.


“When we find a variety that does well for us we stick with it and concentrate on making it do even better. We’re never afraid of trying something different to push performance, save on inputs or both. For instance, we sow in rows at the equivalent of just 10 seeds/m2; we provide inputs little and often rather than in relatively few spray and fertiliser timings; and we’ve developed a regime taking advantage of pod shatter resistance and a specialist pod sealant to harvest as late as we can for the greatest output.


“It’s really good to have our approach recognised through this award. The whole exercise has been extremely valuable in focussing our attention on what really matters – achieving a cost per tonne that enables us to cope with the disappointing crop returns of today as well as making the most of better times.”


These are sentiments emphatically shared by Michael Denis at Elms Farm alongside the A1 just outside Doncaster, growing around 30 ha of winter rape each year in a four or five year rotation with milling wheat, malting barley and human consumption peas.


Last year the 13 ha crop of DK Extrovert his family partnership entered for the awards yielded 5.21t/ha at 46.2% oil for a gross output of 5.43 t/ha. With input costs of £444/ha and operational costs of £256/ha it too delivered a production cost of £136 per tonne of yield or £131 per tonne of gross output.


Having switched to hybrids three seasons ago for their greater ability to compensate for difficult conditions and pest challenges, Mr Denis also regularly brings in yields of over 5t/ha with good oil contents. He grew DK Extrovert for the first time last year, has it in the ground this season and is planting the variety again this autumn.

“I always used to be a committed conventional rape grower,” said Michael. “But now I know what they can do for us, I’m sticking firmly with hybrids. Our DK Extrovert overcame serious grass weed problems last season. And this year a sizeable area of the crop alongside woodland recovered unbelievably from a bad attack of flea beetle.


“As well as this sort of variety, we prioritise effective establishment, correct nutrition and the best possible timing in every aspect of our agronomy.  We grow our oilseed rape with the same attention to detail we put into our milling wheat and malting barley, providing it with the inputs it needs when it needs them.” 


Announcing the award winning growers at Cereals 2016, Dekalb technical specialist, Will Vaughan-France congratulated them on their performance.


“Input and operational costs of just over £130/t are impressive by any measure,” he observed. “With overheads kept under sufficient control, this level of performance underlines the continuing place for winter OSR in UK rotations even at disappointing market prices.

“Both growers reinforce the vital importance of making the most of key hybrid traits like vigorous establishment, rapid autumn and spring development, robust disease resistance and Dekalb pod shatter resistance to save on inputs while maximising outputs.

“They are excellent examples of how best to achieve the sort of financial as well as environmental resilience so essential in crop production today.”


2016 Award Winners Summary Crop Data


Richard Wainwright

Michael Denis


DK Expower

DK Extrovert

Crop area

30 ha

13 ha

Weighbridge yield

5.46 t/ha

5.21 t/ha

Oil content



Gross output

5.63 t/ha

5.43 t/ha

Input Cost



Operational Cost *



Total Crop Cost




£136/t of yield

£136/t of yield


£131/t of gross output

£131/t of gross output

* labour and machinery costs for all field operations




Wednesday June 15, 2016

Further information from:         Will Vaughan-France             07768 507866
                                                       Deryn Gilbey                           07770 331132
                                                      George Chancellor                  07970 670978