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    Spring Oilseed Rape Tops the Charts
10/11/08

In order to minimise the impact of reduced plantings following the wet and delayed harvest this summer, farmers are being advised to grow a crop of spring oilseed rape in order to pull land, that has remained fallow over the winter, back into profitable crop production.

Richard Elsdon

Richard Elsdon, technical manager at United Oilseeds

According to Richard Elsdon, technical manager at United Oilseeds, spring oilseed rape will be one of the most profitable spring sown crops, with gross margins reaching £290 per hectare. “This compares extremely favourably with many other spring crops including feed barley which, at current prices, may only return a gross margin of £193 per hectare,” Mr Elsdon explains.

A recent analysis by United Oilseeds of variable costs versus gross output values for a range of spring sown crops has shown that oilseed rape is only beaten in terms of gross margin value by spring malting barley and large blue peas. “These two crops can be much more risky to grow than oilseed rape due to the volatility in their respective markets. Buyers also have a wider scope to either reject or downgrade them due to various quality issues,” Mr Elsdon says. “Spring oilseed rape however, is a much more reliable crop and as such is more likely to return its maximum market value.”

Arable farmers are also urged to give careful consideration to which variety of spring oilseed rape they should grow. “Nexera is the latest generation of high oleic, low linoleic (HOLL) spring oilseed rape,” explains Mr Elsdon. “This variety is used to produce Natreon oil which is low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, making it a healthier alternative to traditional vegetable oils. As such it is in high demand from food processors and is currently attracting a substantial premium over other spring oilseed varieties.”

United Oilseeds is therefore offering a premium for 2009 harvested crops of Nexera. “We are offering an additional £50 per tonne over all other spring oilseed rape varieties. And with buy-back contracts available on all Nexera crops, this makes it the most profitable option for farmers who want to grow oilseed as a break crop this spring,” Mr Elsdon adds.

The figures produced by United Oilseeds indicate that Nexera will realise a gross margin of £415 per hectare: £125 more per hectare than standard oilseed rape varieties and as much as £222 more than spring feed barley. Nexera also compares favourably to its main oilseed rivals in terms of its agronomic characteristics, with improved vigour and greater standing power as well as a short stem length, making it easier and quicker to harvest. The variety is also relatively high yielding for a spring sown crop, with yields of 2.9 tonnes per hectare reported.

“Nexera has all the attributes to make it an extremely cost effective crop for farmers looking to bring fallow land back into the rotation. It is currently commanding a very attractive premium over other spring break crops making it a healthier option for food manufacturers as well as for farm balance sheets,” Mr Elsdon concludes.

Figure 1: Estimated gross margins for spring sown crops (2009 harvest)

  Spring barley (malting) Spring barley (feed) Large
blue
peas
Linseed Spring beans Spring oilseed rape Nexera spring OSR
Output              
Value (£/mt) 122.00 95.00 180.00 225.00 122.00 247.00 297.00
Yield (mt/ha) 6.10 6.70 4.00 2.10 4.00 2.50 2.50
Income 744.20 636.50 720.00 472.50 488.00 617.50 742.50
Area Aid     44.19   44.19    
Gross Income 744.20 636.50 764.19 472.50 532.19 617.50 742.50
               
Variable Costs            
Seed (£/ha) 52.00 52.00 131.00 40.00 102.00 35.00 35.00
Fertiliser (£/ha) 238.21 281.04 106.38 151.11 112.08 237.12 237.12
Sprays (£/ha) 110.00 110.00 92.09 44.08 95.54 54.92 54.92
Total Variables (£/ha) 400.21 443.04 329.47 235.19 309.62 327.04 327.04
               
Gross Margin (£/ha) 343.99 193.46 434.72 237.31 222.57 290.46 415.46

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