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Essential oilseeds: Spotlight on high erucic acid

A survey of growers this spring sought to identify the likely sources of high levels of erucic acid found in double low rapeseed in recent seasons. 

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Essential oilseeds: Spotlight on high erucic acid

Cruciferous weed seed contamination, farm saved seed and volunteers from previous high erucic acid rape (HEAR) crops are the most likely sources of the high levels of erucic acid contamination detected in UK double low rapeseed in recent years, according to the latest grower intelligence.

 

Part of a national oil quality study conducted by OSR breeder Dekalb this spring, the survey drew responses more than 160 growers from across the country, collectively responsible for almost 75,000 tonnes of annual rapeseed production.

 

While most reported no issues with their rapeseed marketing, some 17% have experienced problems in the past two years.

 

A greater proportion of those growing HEAR crops in the past 10 years (24%) reported crop marketing problems, rising to 27% with those growing HEAR in the past five years.

At the same time, more than three-quarters of those reporting the most serious problems used significant amounts of farm saved seed.

 

However, the fact the largest proportion of those reporting some rapeseed marketing problems in the past two years use only certified seed and most of these have not grown HEAR for the past 10 years clearly indicates wider issues are involved.

 

Any erucic acid impurities in the crop are effectively dealt with at the crush to ensure all rapeseed oil for human consumption is well within the EU’s allowable 5% maximum as well as the 2% to which this is set to be reduced in the coming year.

 

Even so, the supply industry is concerned up to 20% of double low rapeseed deliveries have erucic acid contents of more than 2% on rapid NIR intake testing and it is keen to address this.

 

Dekalb UK marketing manager Mark Shaw says: “Our study indicates a high degree of grower awareness of the issue. Nearly two-thirds of growers are concerned over erucic acid impurities in double low rapeseed.

 

And this rises to almost 90% if, as anticipated, EU oil standards for human consumption are tightened in the near future.

NEW QUALITY ASSURANCE SCHEME

  • A maximum of 0.2% erucic acid measured using gas chromatography analysis set for all Dekalb varieties. The current UK standard for certified seed is a maximum of 2% erucic acid.
  • This standard applied to every seed batch as part of quality assurance process, rather than just at registration, as required. Individual certificates made available to growers through distributors
  • Free Quality Check Scheme on Clearfield varieties. Growers buying six or more bags of Dekalb Clearfield seed will receive the erucic acid analysis certificate for their seed batch together with sample bags. Following harvest, all samples will be tested to provide pre-movement reassurance on erucic acid content
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