Neil Potts of the advisory company Matford Arable Systems Ltd in Exeter describes the winter rape variety Alegria as being attractive from start to finish. “It is the first year we have grown Alegria and we like what we see. It has a real “get up and go” in the autumn, despite drilling being held up by straw not being removed in time. Establishment has not been a problem as it shows excellent autumn vigour.”
Neil explains that in the South West they are usually later to harvest. “We are 10 to 14 days away from harvest at the moment. This is because we are 2ºC to 3ºC cooler in this region and this will impact on crop maturity. We are never the first to get the combines out. Nevertheless the potential of the crops looks good with pods filled well and very little evidence of disease. Alegria will be one of the first varieties to be combined.”
Another feature of Alegria that Neil Potts has noticed is that it stands very well. It has an 8 for stem stiffness and a 9 for resistance to lodging (on a scale of 1-9 when 9 is the top rating). “It has looked a good variety throughout the growing season. As we approach harvest, the crop is standing well; it looks to have large full seed and the maturity of seed is the same at the top of the stem and the bottom of the stem. This evenness makes it a lot easier to time desiccants and to time when to bring the combines in. Other rape varieties are showing much more uneven maturity this year, making harvest timing more difficult.”
“Our autumns are quite wet and spray days are at a premium, so we like to grow varieties that have robust resistance to Phoma. We can’t guarantee the weather but we can guarantee Phoma multigene resistance in Alegria which has a 7 rating for this disease. This gives us more flexibility in terms of when to spray which really helps with management on the farm,” he says.
He says that 2 Phoma sprays are normally applied in the autumn. “This isn’t easy with our wet autumns. Light Leaf Spot is also becoming a bit of an issue in Cornwall now.”
Neil Potts remarks that many farmers in the South West are still avid fans of the rape variety Astrid. “It is regarded as a reliable variety. It is low biomass, for an easier harvest, and has top levels of Phoma resistance. It stands well and yields well. But I would say that whatever Astrid has, Alegria has - and more!”