World record for canola set

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Dry conditions over past weeks in North Otago have contributed to providing a Hilderthorpe farmer with a world record yield of 6.31 tonnes per hectare from his canola crop.

After trying to establish a world record for canola production three years ago with Guinness world records and being turned down, arable farmer Chris Dennison was prompted to try again after reading an article in the English Farmers Weekly.

“English farmer Tim Lamyman had harvested a crop of canola [oilseed rape] which yielded 6.14 tonnes per hectare,” Mr Dennison said.

“Three years ago, my application to establish a world record for canola production was turned down by Guinness on the basis that it was of limited public interest.

“Although I had been recording yields in excess of 6.5 tonnes per hectare and believed these were some of the highest, if not the highest in the world, I didn’t bother recording them, but my thinking changed when I saw the article with Mr Lamyman claiming a world record.”

Mr Dennison said the English farmer had provided the basis for a challenge.

“Although it wasn’t a Guinness world record [Guinness only recognises wheat and barley world record yields], I identified a paddock last spring which could provide a record-achieving yield and decided to have a crack at the record,” he said.

The paddock consisted of two varieties, “Flash” and “Vistive”, and received no special agronomy treatment but did have three applications of 35mm of irrigation.

On January 23, a registered surveyor measured the field area at Mr Dennison’s Hilderthorpe property and Totara farmer Jock Webster witnessed the event, along with Matt Murney from Pure Oil, the processing company that purchases the final product.

A calibrated moisture meter ensured the moisture and quality of the harvested product were up to industry standard, the trucks were witnessed being weighed and a calculation was done to adjust the weight to 9 per cent moisture, which is the industry standard both in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom.

The combine harvester had a special cutter bar set up to direct-cut canola with an extended platform and sideknives and the paddock exceeded the minimum area, coming in at 10.2ha.

When the final figures were calculated, the yield showed 6.31 tonnes per hectare, beating the record set by the English farmer.

Mr Dennison said canola oilseed rape was not widely grown in New Zealand but was a major crop in Europe, Australia and Canada.

“World annual production is in excess of 60 million tonnes,” he said.

Mr Dennison grows wheat, barley, ryegrass seed, canola and winter feed for dairy cows on 400ha of irrigated land at Hilderthorpe and milks 750 cows on an adjacent 220ha.

In 2003, Mr Dennison was the first farmer to bring the world record for wheat yield to New Zealand, harvesting 15.01 tonnes per hectare. The record is now held by Mike Solari, in Southland.
Mr Dennison said he was now hopeful Guinness would sanction a category for this crop, with worldwide interest in canola

His record-yielding crop will ultimately be processed into cooking oil.

By Jacquie Webby

PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Waitaki Valley arable farmer Chris Dennison with his world record canola crop.