Between 6.5 and 7.5 million ha are grown each year in the main producing countries, generating an annual rapeseed harvest of up to 25 million tonnes.
Each tonne of rapeseed yields around 450 litres of high quality food oil with a wide variety of home, manufacturing and catering uses. Not only this, but 580kg per tonne produced from rapeseed oil extraction process is much sought-after as a high protein animal feed.
Increasing European crop performance and strong domestic demand for rapeseed oil means OSR can be highly profitable to grow with the right management.
Because Europe remains far from self-sufficient in vegetable oil production, rapeseed oil is less vulnerable to world market fluctuations than feed grains. At the same time, growing rapeseed offers valuable opportunities to replace imports of palm oil, in particular, with healthier and more environmentally sound home production.
Rapeseed crop is also a first class break crop for cereal rotations. Growing rapeseed allows the natural cycle of cereal disease, weed and pest build-up to be effectively broken. This takes the pressure off future cereal crop management, enabling yields to be increased and growing costs reduced.
Different sowing, spraying and harvest timings to winter cereals are especially valuable in spreading farm workloads at critical times of the year too. This does much to ensure that every crop on the farm receives the timely management essential for the best performance.
As well as its profitability and rotational value, winter rapeseed crop stands out for the range of wider farm benefits it provides.
The 11-month ground coverrapeseed growing gives and the deep and extensive root system it develops help protect soils from erosion, improve their aeration and reduce nitrate leaching over the vulnerable winter months.
Large amounts of above and below ground biomass make a significant contribution to building soil humus too and therapeseed crop provides a particularly good farmland wildlife habitat.
Growing a different high value crop alongside cereals each year further spreads the risk farms run from an increasingly unpredictable climate and uncertain commodity markets.