DESPITE being ‘unfashionable’ and reeling from the neonicotinoid ban, oilseed rape gross margins remain head and shoulders above other break crops.

New analysis of the predicted gross margins for winter break crops by United Oilseeds, has shown that the crop remains one of the most profitable available to UK growers.

The farmer-owned co-operative published fresh data comparing returns from the UK’s most popular break crops and urged growers to take a ‘well-rounded view’ when planning next season’s cropping.

Chris Baldwin, managing director of United Oilseeds, said the data should cement OSR’s position in the rotation. “Our estimated gross margins for 2019 harvest are £714/ha for conventional oilseed rape while HOLL (high oleic, low linolenic) varieties are significantly more at £774/ha,” he said.

“Our modelling predicts winter linseed will return £421/ha and winter beans £460/ha. Oilseed rape returns also stack up well against winter feed barley at £609/ha and even a crop of second feed wheat at £643/ha.”

HOLL varieties offer growers new market opportunities plus a minimum guaranteed premium of £25/tonne from United Oilseeds before bonuses for oil, moisture and admixture. He added: “Demand for HOLL is strong both domestically and through the export market. It’s expected that in the next five years there will be a significant rise in area of HOLL varieties planted from the current 14,000 ha to 75,000 ha, as more food businesses demand ‘healthier’ oil.”

Reacting to the establishment challenges experienced by some of its growers, United Oilseeds has announced it will provide free replacement seed for HOLL crops planted this autumn which fail to establish, subject to conditions.

“There are plenty of reasons to be positive about the market opportunities for the coming season and the longer-term future,” said Mr Baldwin. “HOLL, in particular, offers premiums that are very hard to match with other break crops, while new conventional and hybrid varieties available for the coming season offer improved traits and yield potential.”