Early-cut Avatar delivers great yields

Avatar is one of the earliest oilseed rape varieties to be combined this harvest and indications suggest yields are living up to growers' high expectations.

J Flatt & Son's 29ha of Avatar cut at Hill Farm near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, between 1 and 4 August yielded 4.9t/ha overall at an average 8.4% moisture content, with the yield meter hitting over 6t/ha in some areas of the field.

Andrew Flatt is delighted with the crop's performance. "In a season like this 4.9t/ha is a very good result. Often to get around 5t/ha you have to be on virgin land. It was a lovely looking crop and has produced a nice, even sample of black seed.'

The seed was subcast in 50cm rows on 12 August into lightish land and never looked back, despite the worst the British weather could throw at it last autumn and winter.

It was streets ahead of his other variety going into winter, helping to avoid pigeon problems. Avatar grew away strongly in the spring, stood well and ripened evenly, he adds.

The variety's earliness is another attraction, says Mr Flatt, who also runs a large contracting operation. "Being able to cut my own oilseed rape early is a real advantage.' Seed was supplied by Frontier Agriculture and Mr Flatt has booked more for next season.

Avatar, bred by LSPB, has an impressive four-year mean gross output figure, says LSPB managing director Theo Labuda. "Its current gross output stands at 103.9, just 1.6% behind the leading variety on RL. If Avatar can be harvested at the optimum maturity – official trials are rather late as they are timed to suit the majority of varieties, most of which are later maturing – I believe its performance will be even better.'

Avatar's early maturity can help spread the harvest load, important in any season and especially in one as late as this, he adds.

Avatar's 2012 seed sales equated to 22,500ha, an estimated 3.9% of the area sown with certified seed, and uptake continues to surge, says Tom Nickerson of Ely-based Ebbage Seeds.

"We've had a high number of repeat and new orders. New crop Avatar has been cut in Germany and is being distributed in the UK now in time for early sowing orders, a great advantage for those farmers who require prompt delivery to ensure crop establishment.'

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