Blog •  25/06/2021

The reasons why variety choice takes on additional importance this year

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By Andy Stainthorpe, Seeds and Inoculants Manager, Pioneer


Oilseed rape continues to be a vitally important break crop for UK farmers’ rotations.

With the current market demand – and the price increases that have gone with it – added impetus is placed on maximising output.

Where possible, the highest genetic yield potential should be combined with the strongest agronomic package.

But the challenge for every grower is to identify which variety offers the right combination for their own circumstances.

Here’s what I think will influence varietal choice this year.



If you can time cultivations well and sow into moisture, you’re well placed to achieve good establishment.

What we’ve seen from our new hybrid, PT303, this season so far is  a combination of very good autumn  vigour and excellent spring regrowth rates. Of course, growers would expect to see a hybrid out-grow a conventional variety, but at the sites we’ve looked at this year the difference has been stark.

Strong early growth will help crops to grow away from pests, which is an important consideration for those concerned about flea beetle damage.


Disease resistance

We announced the launch of PT303 earlier this year and there was a lot of attention placed on its ground-breaking sclerotinia tolerance trait.

And rightly so. This is a huge genetic step that Pioneer has taken. It is the first ever winter oilseed rape variety with a claim for tolerance to the stem disease.

This is an ideal variety for those looking to add a further layer of built-in protection against disease, particularly sclerotinia which can be devastating to yield in wet and humid conditions.

A crop hit by an outbreak of sclerotinia can be decimated, with yields hit by up to 60%.

In Candidate List trials, PT303 scored 7 for phoma, ehanced by the RLM7 gene, and 6 for  light-leaf spot. Proven TuYV resistance is also part of the PT303 agronomic package.


Gross output

For the reasons I’ve outlined, big yields this harvest look like they will be well rewarded by the upturn in oilseed rape prices.

This will focus minds on which variety is likely to deliver in 2022 too.

PT303 delivered the highest yields in each region in AHDB Candidate List trials, including a UK region gross output of 111%.


Overall package

We’re really excited to bring PT303 to the market this year. The Protector Sclerotinia trait is a truly promising new technology. But it hasn’t been delivered to the detriment of other key considerations such as yield, early vigour or other disease resistance levels.

This is another example of Pioneer innovating and adapting to a changing landscape and giving growers more options and flexibility.

PT303 is part of the AHDB’s Recommended List trials this year and we look forward to reporting back on the results after harvest.