Gear-up for a food-focused future, OSR growers advised - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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June 26, 2013

Gear-up for a food-focused future, OSR growers advised

Premium food oil production will become increasingly important for UK oilseed rape growers in a future European vegetable oil market set to be driven far less by biodiesel demand, predicts recently-appointed Agrii head of crop marketing, David Neale.

Speaking at the latest in the company’s series of summer i-farm meetings at Stafford this month, he stressed that the fundamentals of the rapeseed market continue to remain strong. However, he urged growers to prepare themselves for European biodiesel demand to peak, leading to progressively more food-focused requirements.

“The writing is clearly on the wall,” he said. “Our market will be depending far less on the biodiesel which has given it such stability in recent years and very much more on food oil for both domestic use and export.

“This means growers keen to maintain the best and most stable returns would be well-advised to develop their positions in premium quality food oil production.  Not least because the speciality high oleic, low linolenic (HO,LL) rapeseed market is coming of age at just the right time.  Food industry demand for its stable, high health frying oils is increasingly steadily across Europe. And the particular storage and shipping stability these oils offer makes them especially well-suited to export.

“At the same time, advanced hybrid breeding is producing a steady stream of speciality oil varieties with all yield potential and agronomic strengths of today’s commodity ‘double lows’ and higher oil qualities better able to deliver the required premium specification even in the face of some volunteer or weed contamination.

“Against this background, we’re expanding the closed-loop Vistive contracts we offer through Glencore and ADM for the coming season and extending them to growers far more widely across the country,” explained David Neale. 

“With OSR prices looking rather less rosy over the coming year, we have no doubt flat rate premiums of £25-£35/t on top of standard double low oil bonuses will have particular appeal for many. After all, who wouldn’t like the assurance of an extra income of £7000 from a typical 50 ha crop for little, if any, additional growing cost.”

Alongside the established Vistive hybrids V275-OL and V280-OL, the latest high output/very high oil quality variety, V295-OL will be available through the new season Agrii contracts. With yields averaging 4.4t/ha in the breeder’s trial network last season, the new addition delivers the highest possible output of oil with a linolenic content that most easily meets the required market specification.

All three 2013/14 Agrii contract varieties are very vigorous to establish, have good lodging resistance and levels of disease resistance better than most of the varieties on the current Recommended List, making them well-suited to current growing needs.

Latest European studies also show they compete markedly better with both weeds and volunteers than the original Vistive pure lines. This makes them considerably more robust
in maintaining their quality in the face of volunteer and weed contamination.

“Vistive growing still isn’t for everyone,” David Neale pointed out.  “However, the improved qualities and agronomics of the varieties now available mean there’s far more flexibility to successfully introduce them into your rotation. You know too that, in the unlikely event of samples failing to make the HO,LL spec, their yield parity with ‘double lows’ means you can sell them into the commodity crush at no effective penalty.  And, unlike high erucic acid (HEAR) crops, their volunteers present you with no contamination risk in any subsequent food oil crops.

“Now is just the right time to begin establishing Vistive crops in your current rotation,” he concluded.  “As well as earning an attractive flat rate premium on every tonne,  diversifying part of your OSR production into a secure food sector with the best prospects is an ideal way of taking advantage of where the European rapeseed oil market is undoubtedly going. In so doing, of course, you’ll be building-in the best possible safeguard against any downside market risk.”