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Stress tolerance at the forefront of OSR breeding programme

Monsanto has launched six new hybrid oilseed rape (OSR) varieties which have been bred to match the modern need to cope with a diverse range of growing conditions. Abby Kellett reports.


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With increasing demand for varieties to perform consistently year-on-year, traits such as disease resistance, early vigour, nitrogen efficiency and pod shatter resistance have become sought-after.

 

According to Laurent Verdier, European OSR breeder with Monsanto, selecting for crop yield alone is no longer sufficient to meet the challenges of variable climate, reduced agrochemical options and increasing input costs.

 

He says: “As the environment is changing, the grower’s priority is also changing. While farmers have previously demanded high output, now other beneficial traits are in demand which reduce the risk of crops failing.

 

“As a breeder, it is not too difficult to breed for high outputs, the problem comes when you try and stack a number of beneficial traits together to create a more resistant, high yielding variety.”

 

Despite these challenges, Monsanto has adapted its breeding programme to select for stress-tolerant varieties which can perform well when conditions are less than ideal.

 

See also: Breeding for a new oilseed rape era

 

Some 80% of the company’s nursery trials are located in ‘disadvantaged’ areas, allowing plant material which does not perform under difficult conditions to be discarded.

 

This means only ‘stress-tolerant’ varieties progress within the breeding programme. Moreover, the yield potential of these varieties is only likely to increase when the variety is trialled in more forgiving locations, says Mr Verdier.

 

The selection process involves selecting for varieties which cover the ground quickly, which helps reduce competition from weeds and allows young plants to cope better with pest damage.

cont.

Monsanto have also been quick to recognise a need to breed crops that use nitrogen more efficiently and so within its breeding programme assesses varieties’ response to lower nitrogen inputs.

 

Varieties with improved nitrogen use efficency (NUE) offer a number of benefits, says Mr Verdier, including the possibility of applying less N and a degree of flexibility in terms of N timing

 

Additionally, pod shatter resistance is now a standard trait selected for within the Monsanto programme, which gives growers flexibility in terms of harvesting.

 

With fungicide active ingredients becoming increasingly limited and mild winters becoming the norm, Mr Verdier also highlights the importance of disease resistance which adds flexibility to fungicide timings and the number of applications.

 

All trials are untreated with the exception of a sclerotinia fungicide application, to help assess which varieties are least susceptible to the key diseases.

New varieties

New varieties

The six varieties launched by Monsanto are; DK Secret and DK Exclaim, revealed as candidates for both the East/West and North AHDB Recommended Lists, which will be announced later in the year; DK Exception and V324 OL are candidates for the North region alone; clubroot tolerant variety DK Platinum and imidazolinone-tolerant (Clearfield) variety DK Imagis CL.

 

A small amount of seed from these varieties is expected to be available in the 2016 planting season. Seed will become more widely available in 2017.

 

DK Secret

Earliness of flowering

Late

Earliness of maturity

Early

Shortness of stem

Short

Stem stiffness

Very good

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

8

Light leaf spot

8

Source: Monsanto

 

Measuring 30cm shorter than conventional hybrids, this new semi-dwarf variety has the advantage of good lodging resistance alongside high output, which has been a stumbling block for many short-strawed OSR varieties to date.

 

This rare combination, as well as exceptional disease resistance, makes this variety an exciting prospect for future growers, says Monsanto.

 

“It has been very stable in its performance in national list trials, which in itself is unusual for a short-strawed variety.”

 

DK Exclaim

Earliness of flowering

Late

Earliness of maturity

Mid

Shortness of stem

Tall

Stem stiffness

Good

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

8

Light leaf spot

7

Source: Monsanto

 

As Monsanto’s leading candidate for this year’s Recommended List, DK Exclaim offers a combination of high output, anti-lodging characteristics and good disease resistance.

 

In Monsanto trials, this variety performed three per cent better than leading OSR variety DK Explicit. It is also described as the stiffest stemmed variety that Monsanto have produced to date.

 

The characteristics of this variety also increase flexibility in managing the crop, says Monsanto technical specialist

 

Monsanto technical specialist Will Vaughan-France says: “The package of disease resistance it offers means we could see growers moving away from two fungicide applications in the autumn to one late spray which could incorporate the phoma and light leaf spot spray in one application.

 

“It is later to get going in the spring which could be an advantage on heavy land sites where growers cannot get onto the ground to apply nitrogen.”

 

DK Exception

Earliness of flowering

Mid

Earliness of maturity

Mid

Shortness of stem

Tall

Stem stiffness

Good

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

9

Light leaf spot

6

Source: Monsanto

 

While DK Exclaim could be the best option when looking to push for high yield, DK Exception is likely to suit lower yielding sites where crop resilience is important.

 

“We have found this variety has remarkable performance which has been consistent across multiple European countries, which is very rare.

 

“This gives us a lot of confidence that this variety is able to perform in a wide range of conditions,” says Mr Vaughan-France.”

 

Additionally, growers can consider applying less nitrogen to DK Exception, since it is said to be able to use nitrogen more efficiently than other varieties on the market.

 

DK Platinum

Earliness of flowering

Late

Earliness of maturity

Mid

Shortness of stem

Medium

Stem stiffness

Good

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

5

Light leaf spot

5

Source: Monsanto

 

Also launched was the company’s first clubroot tolerant variety, DK Platinum. As well as providing protection against clubroot, in trials yield has not been compromised.

 

Mr Vaughan-France says: “Its yield is on par with varieties such as DK Expower in situations where we do not have clubroot.

 

“Where we do have clubroot, yields are remarkably improved.”

 

Heacknowledges the variety’s disease resistance ratings are something of a flaw – ratings for both light leaf spot and stem canker sit at a moderate 5.

 

DK Imagis CL

Earliness of flowering

Mid-Late

Earliness of maturity

Mid-Late

Shortness of stem

Medim-Tall

Stem stiffness

Good

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

5

Light leaf spot

6

Source: Monsanto

 

As the first standard height Clearfield variety from Monsanto, DK Imagis CL offers tolerance to specific imidazolinone herbicides along with high output.

 

According to Monsanto, its yield matches that of non-Clearfield varieties: “With DK Imagis we have been able to achieve yields that are much more in line with other recommended list varieties.

 

“The variety has strong stem characteristics and good disease resistance, nothing right at the top end but is doesn’t have any fundamental deficiencies in its ratings either.”

 

V324 OL

Earliness of flowering

Mid

Earliness of maturity

Mid

Shortness of stem

Tall

Stem stiffness

Excellent

Disease resistance:

Stem canker

5

Light leaf spot

6

Source: Monsanto

 

With similar characteristic to its predecessor, V316, this variety has good HOLL qualitywhich should easily meet contract specifications, according to Monsanto.

 

“Importantly, it has good lodging resistance and is up to the mark in terms of yield,” said Mr Vaughan-France

 

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