Traits and characteristics
The range and speed with which improved traits can be rapidly and reliably combined into hybrids is simply impossible with conventional breeding methods. Stacking all the genes into one line can be slow, and for a large number of genes it is much easier to put some in each hybrid parent and then bring them together.
But a particular hybrid’s ability to deliver depends on identifying the most valuable traits in the first place, fixing them in parent stock and combining the characteristics of both parents into high output hybrids with consistent strength and agronomic depth to get the greatest possible advantage.
By doing this, breeders are able to use advanced breeding techniques to create OSR hybrid offspring with improved characteristics, and allow the inclusion of traits now and in the future which include:
- Disease resistance
- Herbicide tolerance
- Higher oil content
- Semi-dwarf growth habit
- Healthy / specialist oils
- Pod shatter resistance
While the breeding of open pollinated OSR varieties stems from one parent plant, the breeding of hybrids involves the ‘crossing’ of genetically diverse parent plants, which results in the production of stronger offspring – a process called heterosis.
Heterosis is responsible for the increased yields, uniformity and vigorous nature of hybrids. These stronger offspring can be progressively improved by repeating the heterosis process again and again, to produce robust OSR varieties.
Greater vigour contributes to a hybrid’s green area index, which in turn has a significant effect on yield potential and seed number.
Hybrid OSR varieties have a natural ability to perform well when conditions are difficult. This tough, resilient nature allows greater flexibility for growers if, for example, drilling dates are delayed, or the weather interrupts spraying times. Growers can rest assured that the hybrid will be resilient enough to cope with the adverse circumstances.
The built in flexibility of hybrids ensures:
- Greater autumn / spring GAI, which results in more efficient use of nitrogen
- Increased tolerance of drought
- A more prolonged sowing window, suited to late drilling
- Hybrids are ideal for shorter seasons in the North
- Increased resilience and recovery from pest damage
In addition, there is scope to reduce seed rates for hybrid OSR, as these varieties have a better ability to compensate for lower plant densities, and crops are less likely to suffer severe lodging.