ANDY Stirrat, of Fingask Farm, Rhynd, near Perth, has his crop of Archimedes oilseed rape off the field and in the shed – at least a week before any other oilseed rape crop in the area.

Sprayed off on July 5, and harvested July 25, the crop has proved one of the highest yielding in the last five or six years, coming off at 4.8 tonnes per ha at under 10% moisture.

Nick Wallace, of Nickerson, who supplied the seed, said it was the only crop of OSR in the Perth area that he has seen in the shed at that time.

Last year, Mr Stirrat lost a large amount of his rape crop just before harvest when strong winds swept through the farm, causing extensive pod shatter, reducing his yields down to one tonne per ha, so this year wanted to grow a variety that offered not just pod shatter resistance, but early maturity.

On the advice of Mr Wallace, he opted for the hybrid, Archimedes.

This was drilled on August 10, at 60 seeds/m².

“The crop was up and away and established well as you would expect from a hybrid and has been straight forward to manage and has looked good all season,” said Mr Stirrat.

“Inputs were standard in the autumn and spring, and the crop received 200kg N/ ha.”

Bred by Limagrain UK, Archimedes is a club root resistant variety that produces yields comparable with the control varieties PR46W21 and Mentor. Mr Stirrat acknowledged that club root was also an issue last year, with 15% loss to the disease even in a five/six-year rotation.

“As Archimedes is resistant, it ticked another box with no issues this year,” added Mr Stirrat.

Its lodging resistance and stem stiffness were also both attractive features which made the crop easy to harvest, despite it being a slightly taller variety.

Archimedes also has excellent disease resistance to light leaf spot and stem canker, which adds to its suitability for growers in the north.

Independent crop consultant, Allen Scobie, based in central Scotland, believes the most important aspect is maximising recoverable yield and pod shatter resistance goes a long way to achieving this by reducing the risk of damage from strong winds and cutter bar losses.

“Scottish growers have dealt with some fairly mixed weather at the start of harvest over the last few years and in 2016 areas of central Scotland experienced strong gale force winds within days of harvest.

“Some growers lost more than half of their crop due to pod shatter but hybrids with the pod shatter resistance gene experienced little or no damage.

“This year, a series of low pressures have prevented many growers from starting to harvest oilseed rape, so many crops are still standing in the field and we will have to see what plays out with these crops.

“Hybrids containing a pod shatter resistance gene can reduce the risk of losses from wind or delayed harvest and reduce the need for pod OSR IN stickers,” he argued.