Getting the best from Quartz

June 2013

Newly Recommended high output OSR offers unbeatable phoma resistance.

After an autumn that has seen growers struggle to get fungicides onto waterlogged oilseed rape crops, new variety Quartz could prove popular next season.

No other recommended conventional variety has a perfect 9 rating for resistance to phoma which means that Quartz offers the best possible protection against stem canker.

According to KWS UK oilseed rape manager, Tom Dummett, Quartz also offers a high gross output.† “At 102% of controls, it has an average yield in treated trials of over 5.5t/ha, just 1% behind the leading conventional varieties.

“This is backed by the potential to secure a high oil bonus from an oil content of 45.5%, which is ahead of that offered by most other leading conventional varieties,” he says.

“Combine such a strong package of high gross output, with early maturity and unbeatable resistance to stem canker, and Quartz will be an ideal selection for those in mainstream oilseed rape growing regions.”

Outstanding Stem Canker Resistance

According to Mr Dummett, last autumn highlighted just how important a combination of good inherent disease resistance and a comprehensive fungicide programme can be in controlling phoma and the subsequent development of stem canker.†

“The dull, wet conditions resulted in high phoma pressure in crops which were commonly late drilled and struggling to gain the leaf area they needed to survive the winter.

“Most growers rightly planned to employ two to three fungicides, but many spraying plans were thwarted due to an inability to get on the ground.

“In this respect, the introduction of Quartz – with its maximum 9 rating for the disease - is a major step forward particularly where growers are adopting closer rotations that further exacerbate the phoma risks,” he says.

The plant breeder confirms that Quartz combines a number of different genes giving protection against phoma and this helps to ensure the resistance is robust in the field.

“While Quartz will show some phoma spotting in the autumn in unsprayed crops, its resistance package means that this disease is much less likely to develop into stem canker in the spring/summer.

“So, quite simply, Quartz buys you time, allowing you to focus on autumn disease control on other weaker varieties across the farm and a new partner variety for selection alongside current stalwarts on your farm,” says Tom.

A low biomass variety, slightly shorter than DK Cabernet and with an 8 for lodging and 7 for stem stiffness, Quartz stood up well in the difficult 2012 season.† It has a prostrate winter growth habit and offers good winter survival.

Working with the seed supply industry, Quartz was launched a year ahead of last November’s recommendation.† Not surprisingly on the back of its strong potential it sold out on farm, taking a 5-6% market share of the UK certified seed area.

With seed more widely available in 2013, it will be a valuable companion variety for those who grow the current market leading conventional variety DK Cabernet, which is 4 points adrift of Quartz’s resistance to phoma.


Agrii seed manager, Barry Barker reckons that Quartz has come to the market at just the right time.† “Conventional oilseed rape growers are looking for a variety to support DK Cabernet and Quartz’s high yield performance and solid disease package fits this bill,” he says.

“It has appeal for growers principally in eastern England but also the West Midlands and south where stem canker and closer rotations are becoming more of an issue.†

“Around half of all growers are now growing oilseed rape one year in every three, so good stem canker resistance is increasingly important to reduce disease risks.

“Quartz has no particular weaknesses at all and has just caught the imagination at a time when Castille has fallen away.† We expect Quartz will be our biggest selling conventional next autumn.”

Canker Warning

Mr Barker’s colleague, Philip Marr has been following Quartz in trial and reckons that its consistency in yield sets it apart from others.† “It seems fairly robust, offering stable, reliable yields over different seasons,” he says.

He points out that conditions this season mean that many growers should expect to see severe stem canker in crops this summer.† This will bring into focus the fact that yield is not always king and that a variety with a 9-rating for the disease is a major plus.

“Last year we had big biomass going into winter and then the spring and may have got away with it.† This year leaf petioles are often less than 2cm in length on plants that have suffered in waterlogged soils and this, combined with an inability to get out and spray means that the phoma infection will no doubt show itself in due course.

“This is where Quartz fits in nicely and is a major plus.† If phoma does get into the plant the variety’s ability to hold it at bay gives you a chance to get on and spray.

While slow to grow away in spring, Philip Marr says that Quartz goes crazy at stem extension.† “Last year we were seeing up to 7 to 8cm growth a day, but it is not late or tall, which DK Cabernet can be,” says Mr Marr.†

“Given a good year I’d not be surprised to see its acreage creep further north next autumn replacing some Cabernet or some of the taller hybrids as a result of its medium height,” he suggests.†

Trial Performance

In Frontier’s trials at Haywold last year, Quartz was second top for gross output just 1% behind Ovation and both conventionals were ahead of all hybrid varieties.

On the back of this and results elsewhere, Jim Carswell reckons Quartz is a strong conventional variety with a performance on a par with modern hybrids.

“It is short and stiff and while its 9 for phoma doesn’t mean you won’t have to spray for the disease, it does give you flexibility in spray date and spray programme in a busy autumn period,” he says.

“This year, the delayed harvest and continuous wet weather delayed drilling and later sown crops never picked up in conditions that were colder and wetter than the 20 year average from September to December according to our on-site weather station.

“In these backward crops, phoma pressure increased from the end of October and into November.† It was also difficult to get on and spray, so those with Quartz will have found its phoma resistance a real boon in managing spray programmes – if indeed they got it sprayed at all.

“Also, because plants are generally small the distance the disease spores had to move down the leaf petiole to the base of stem was relatively small, infection time for stem canker to potentially develop would have been relatively short, so growers needed to be on the ball to protect crops.”

Mr Carswell says that Quartz’s phoma resistance buys growers time in regions where light leaf spot is also on the rise.† “In these situations, you could potentially utilise one later spray focused on LLS going in at the beginning of November rather than two separate sprays with the phoma fungicide in October.

“From our work, Quartz also has an average biomass in mid October which could be an advantage compared to other varieties that produce too big a canopy in open autumns.† In my opinion, it’s far better to have a crop that grows away at a steady pace in the autumn – producing 6-8 leaves in a compact state over winter – before it grows away in mid February.† Quartz is one of these types and so you don’t need the growth check of a fungicide with PGR activity with the variety and can focus on using fungicides that target disease,” he says.

Agronomic Characteristics


Stem Stiffness

Height (cm)



Stem Canker


Agronomic Rating










DK Cabernet









DK Camelot









Data source: Candidate summary Winter Oilseed Rape East/West region 2012