Oilseed rape is having its moment in the sun this year. Prices skyrocketed this season and those who had been loyal to the crop were rewarded.

Among the 10,000ha of winter oilseed rape planted were approximately 800ha of a particular type known as HEAR. This carried a premium which saw Irish farmers paid the dry price for green deliveries, along with a High Erucic Acid Rape (HEAR) premium of €5/t.

High Erucic Acid Rape (HEAR) is used in the pharmaceutical industry and to produce industrial lubricants. This is the second year that Glanbia has offered farmers contracts to grow the crop, which is exported to the UK for processing.

Grower’s perspective

James English, who farms in south Tipperary, grew HEAR this year and was very happy with how it performed and the premium available.

“We got 1.9t/ac off it and our average moisture was 10.5%.”

Break crops make up approximately one-third of James’s rotation and he said oilseed rape works well because it can be planted early.

Getting a premium for the break crop, which helps soil and boosts yields in following crops, is an attractive option. He is now increasing the area planted to HEAR.

“I forward sold about one-third of it at last year’s harvest and we sold the rest when it went up to €540/t. We have one-third of it sold for 2022. It takes the risk out of it.”

This season, the rape straw was chopped for the Straw Incorporation Measure. James cultivated stubbles with a Vaderstad TopDown across the farm and usually sows his oilseed rape from 20 August onwards. This season, he is planting with his new 6m Kverneland U-drill.

James noted that the crop was treated much the same as a standard crop of oilseed rape. David Quinlan of Glanbia looked after the agronomy.

Similar management

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, David urged anyone thinking of growing oilseed rape to do so in the next 10 days or so and noted that Glanbia is increasing the area planted to HEAR significantly for interested growers across the country.

“The main variety is Ergo. It’s a hybrid and is primarily the same management as any oilseed rape crop. It’s very comparable on yield. We’ve had crops doing 1.8t/ac to 2t/ac.

“They are high-yielding hybrid varieties with medium plant height and stiff stems. They have performed on heavy and light land and have a medium rating for maturity,” David noted.

Pricing

David Quinlan explained that growers will be paid based on the November MATIF oilseed rape price. This provides transparency. Growers will receive the dry price for non-dried rape which adds considerably to the value, along with a HEAR bonus of €5/t and depending on input spend will receive up to €10/t of a Glanbia loyalty bonus. This gives growers approximately €35/t over standard oilseed rape price. “If the November 2022 rapeseed price today is €472/t, the Glanbia Ireland HEAR price to members [Glanbia shareholders] is a potential €487/t for green rape delivered at 9% moisture,” David explained. With constant improvements and more consistent yields, oilseed rape is becoming a more attractive break crop. It may now be joining the cash crop list.