Norfolk farmer Paul Hartley of Frank Hartley and Sons experimented with a new direct drilling
system for his winter oilseed rape last autumn and has been very pleased with the outcome, which
has delivered 5.5 t/ha (2.22 t/acre) and 44.4% oil for his hybrid oilseed rape
“Rape yields have been much better than last year and I am particularly pleased with the oil
content, on average 44.4%, which means a good price for my rape seed,” he says.
Paul explains that they have been drilling this year on a double spacing to allow the rape
crop, especially hybrids, a good space to tiller out in the spring. “We have found that
conventional spacing is too compact and the canopy can’t fill out as well. Certainly Dimension,
which is our main rape, is a very vigorous variety that likes to tiller out in the spring and the
very good yields that we have achieved this year is testament to this approach. We intend to grow
more Dimension along with two other DSV varieties Primus and new for this year Record using this
drilling and establishment system this autumn.”
Farming near a bird sanctuary, Paul has the inevitable pigeon problem on his rape but also an
unusual swan problem too. “Allowing the wheat stubble to be left higher at harvest goes some
way to stop the birds landing. But the swans are a bit of a problem on some fields! A rape variety
that gets up quickly, develops a strong rooting system and grows away vigorously helps and I have
found Dimension and Primus both show this feature. I think that the first two weeks after
drilling can make or break the crop. This year we suffered a very cold and extended winter, but the
rape perked up well in the spring and tillered out well, despite the cold. Both varieties also have
very good standing ability.”
Lee Bennett, National Seeds Manager for Openfield, reports that Dimension has done very well
this year, regularly exceeding the 5t/ha (2t/acre) mark and delivering good high oils.
“Its performance on farm across the UK has even better than expected. But the real ‘proof of
the pudding’ is in the order books and we have had a lot of repeat orders for seed for Dimension
for sowing this year. Growers have been pleased with its yields and oils. We have had no gripes
about disease or any aspect of agronomics. Openfield have been selling Dimension for 4 years now
and are probably responsible for a majority of seed sales. Each year interest from our farmers has
gone up,” says Lee.
From breeders DSV, Dimension has an impressive gross output of 104%, 7% higher than Castille,
and a high oil content of 46.5%. It has a relatively short stem with good stem characteristics, an
8 rating for resistance to lodging and also for stem stiffness. Its flexible sowing window, strong
autumn and spring growth are tangible benefits for growers.